Hello readers!  You will recall that we recently introduced a new series for the blog called Friday Workshops.  This is in addition to our other ongoing series, Teacher Features and Alumni Annals.  The first of the Friday Workshop posts involved ‘Protection and the Rights of the Child,’ and this one is about ‘Child Play and Games.’  Please enjoy!

####

“New volunteer Belina held another training session for our tutors on Friday, July 10th.  There was an introduction of the topic called ‘Child Play and Games,’ which again would be taught using participatory methods.

As facilitator, Belina gave room for the tutors to discuss what they know about child play and games and why they are important for children.

She asked:

1. How do teachers support child play?

2. Which types of play do you prefer at your school?

3. Do you have enough time to engage children in play?

Belina started the training by explaining what play is and the importance of play to children in all domains of life.  She explained that play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth and that every child deserves the opportunity to develop to their unique potential.

She listed the following as reasons why play is important:

• Play is integral to the academic environment; it gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.

• It ensures that the school setting attends to the social and emotional development of children as well as their cognitive development.

• It helps children adjust to the school setting and even to enhance children’s learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills.

• It allows for peer interactions which is an important component of social-emotional learning.

• It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.

• It helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.

• It allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills, especially when undirected.

• It helps children to discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.

According to Belina, there are different types of play.  Solitary Play is when a child plays alone which prepares him/her to be independent and able to entertain themselves later in life.  Onlooker Play involves observing children playing without taking part; children do that because they lack rules of a certain play.  Interaction between children in order to achieve a common goal is called Cooperative Play, and Associative Play is when social interaction is more likely to be seen.

Play has many characteristics which include but are not limited to being enjoyable, realistic, natural, fun, rewarding, stimulating, non-threatening, open-ended, flexible, and of interest to the children.  Play can be encouraged by keeping the timing of it open-ended and allowing for lots of space.  It is also helpful to have playing materials and games on hand and caring adults around.  Adults like our tutors and the children’s parents and caregivers can support play by talking with the kids, encouraging creativity, helping them to practice new skills, assisting them to focus on tasks, and building self-esteem.

Finally, Belina asked that now that the staff had all this new information, what kind of commitment did they think they could make in their own classrooms.  It was decided that the staff would do the following:

• Put more effort in play and games and make sure that all children participate fully.

• Make sure that the children enjoy play and games.

• Set proper and enough time for children to engage fully in play.

• Use different games when teaching which will make a child enjoy the subject.

• Consider the children’s interests when planning for play and to plan early.

• Use inclusive methods during play so that children in all of the Toa tiers play together, especially in outdoor play.

• Choose sports and games according to the environment and prepare materials according to the needs of the child.

• Set good examples to children when they are playing and also participate in play with the children.

• Use fun games and songs when teaching, that will make the children love school and enjoy the lesson.”