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An Apprenticeship in "Original Play"®

Guidelines for An Apprenticeship In “Original Play”®
O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D.


The following is written primarily for those people, who after taking workshops in original play and beginning to play with children, decide that they want to pursue original play with a more serious commitment.


The following guidelines are written for six reasons:

  1. Sometimes people assume that they can “teach” Original Play after taking a few workshops.
  2. It is necessary for each person who wants to continue growing with “Original Play” to have a keen understanding of the integrity and responsibility involved in such a choice.
  3. It is important to present some guidelines that create a sense of the breadth and depth of the commitment required in original play.
  4. To focus prospective participants on the necessity of learning “Original Play”® from children.
  5. To provide ways for people to make connections with and support others who are playing.
  6. To learn how to effectively present oneself to the public.

People often ask me, “When can I teach “Original Play”®?”  This is the wrong question.  The more I play the more I understand that I know less and less.  So the crucial question is to ask instead, “How do I keep learning more about Original Play?”


While “Original Play”® remains difficult to define, the process of experiencing it can be pointed out and mentored.  The one seeking to learn to play needs an environment that fosters gentleness, compassion and kindness in thought, spirit, and action.  This is the ecology of the playground created by children.


What follows is the first step in an apprenticeship in “Original Play”®.  “Original Play”® is a long and at times difficult psycho-physical and spiritual discipline. Each person may play differently though each applies the same principles in their play.  When we begin to play after years away from it, we bring different habits and backgrounds. Therefore, the length of an apprenticeship depends upon the individual. In the final analysis you alone are responsible for your own growth in original play.  An apprenticeship in “Original Play”® has no standard length of time. My apprenticeship, for example, lasted over 25 years.


Those who seek an apprenticeship in “Original Play”® must be able to see beyond the categories and touch the hearts of those with whom they play.  There is no easy way to discover this. “Original Play”® cannot be taught, only learned from experience.  As you play you receive a direct and first-hand experience of another being.  You must learn to respect the fact that in this giving and receiving you are being mentored.  You will feel your strengths and weaknesses.  You will learn to play with your spirit, not your ego.


What follows are guidelines for a basic foundation in “Original Play”ä.  It is important to point out that “Original Play”® is learned from masters—children.  One does not learn “Original Play”® from adults, nor by attending workshops.  Workshops are introductions and are by design what I call accessibility training—that is training to prepare you to be mentored by children.  Only then will your experience, training, and time expand your compassion as you play in your daily life.


What follows is a basic outline of an apprenticeship in “Original Play”®.  The following elements are by no means complete.  They are intended to give those who already play reference points or hints to the direction one must follow.  The numbers are minimums.  You may be ready to offer workshops in “Original Play”® when you meet the following criteria.


A 3 year initiation apprenticeship consists of:

  • 100 hours/year=300 total hours playing with children in 3 years
  • 2 basic training seminars
  • 2 advanced training seminars
  • 2 teaching seminars
  • 300 hours must include at least 100 hours with special needs children
  • minimum number of children played with in 3 years=3,000.
  • 4 play sessions with different kinds of children under the individual mentorship of Jola and/or Daniel


Jolanta Graczykowska and Daniel Caron are designated mentors in “Original Play”® in Europe and America respectively.  They give certificates of participation in workshops and seminars as expressions of an individual’s participation. In addition to workshop and seminar participation certificates, Daniel and Jola will provide certificates of recognition to those they feel have completed the apprenticeship training.  This apprenticeship certificate is an affirmation of, not an end, but a beginning.   It is evidence of one’s moral responsibility and commitment to the discipline, wisdom, and compassion of “Original Play”®.


Individuals who want to be listed on either the American or European Union websites can send the following information to either Daniel Caron or Jolanta Graczykowska for consideration to be placed on or .   Each person is responsible for the accuracy of the information they present and for updating it as necessary.







“Original Play”® seminars (not workshops) taken:


Years/hours of experience doing “Original Play”® with children:


Types and numbers of children played with: