Director’s Corner – Increasing Opportunities for Employees to Play
We know that play provides many benefits for children and their development. But did you know that play is beneficial for adults as well? Experts suggest that play can reduce stress, build teamwork and confidence, and help adults rekindle creativity.
As the leader of your team, if you want your program to experience the benefits of play, you will need to promote playfulness. This might mean that you spend time each week, in classrooms, modeling how to play with the children. Not teach the children – not guide their play – but simply play with them.
You could incorporate games into your staff meetings, such as a memory game that reinforces your policies and procedures or a game of charades to show the teacher of the month what you appreciate about their work. Hold contests throughout the year to promote creativity and add a bit of healthy competition.
Orientation and professional development events should also incorporate periods of play. There are trivia-style apps that you can use to quiz employees about key information related to emergency preparedness or assessment methods used in your program.
Conduct a training on the power of play by providing a variety of open-ended materials (pompoms, popsicle sticks, tile samples, pipe cleaners, magnets, etc.). Encouraging teachers to quietly play for 20 minutes. Ask teachers to identify the skills and patterns of thinking they used during their play. Then ask them to pair up with another teacher and combine their materials for another 20-minute play session. Follow up with another discussion about the skills used during the session. Encourage teachers to think of how they could use similar materials to promote skills with children.
Help teachers identify different playful things they can do in their classrooms when they are feeling stressed or frustrated. Point out different opportunities for teachers to step in to play mode as a means of connecting with children in a more casual manner.
Remember, it is a fundamental right for children to be able to engage in play. In order to fulfill this right, teachers must recognize the value of play and take a stand to ensure that a multitude of play opportunities are available to the children in their care.
For the main article Increasing Opportunities for Free Play, CLICK HERE
For the article Play throughout the Day, CLICK HERE
For the article Adaptations to Promote Free Play, CLICK HERE
For the article Incorporating Loose Parts, CLICK HERE