In early learning environments, as with most other workplace settings, the tone is set at the top. This means there are things that you can do as a leader to encourage teachers to be more playful in the classroom.  Below is a list of a few things to consider – we would love to hear how you encourage teachers to engage in play in your program.

Be playful. Play games during staff meetings that build teamwork and cooperation.  Ask teachers to brainstorm ways that these games can be adapted for children of different ages.

Practice playing. Provide professional development opportunities that allow teachers to engage in play and recognize the benefits of open-ended, free play. Trainings should also guide teachers how to enter into play and ways to engage with children in meaningful ways.

Make intentional plans to play. When reviewing teachers’ lesson plans, provide feedback about ways that more open-ended exploration of materials can be integrated into the plan.  Encourage teachers to identify which times of day, or during which activities, they intend to engage children in play.

Materials for play. Review material request lists to ensure that most of the requested materials can be used during open-ended free play. During classroom inspections, look for materials that can be used creatively and in multiple ways.

Time for play. Observe classrooms in action to ensure that the daily schedule allows for long periods of interrupted play. Work with teachers to adjust their daily routine to include more time for children to engage in free play.

Model ways to engage in play with children. Set ten minutes aside each week to visit classrooms and just play with the children.  Encourage teachers to observe you, whenever possible. Afterward, talk about what they noticed you doing while you were engaged with the children.

Organize play dates. Once a month, invite parents to visit the program and engage in play with their children. Teachers can guide parents on ways to allow children to engage in child-led play and engage with them in meaningful ways. Provide a variety of resources for parents to take with them about the value of play!

For the main article Engaging in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Why Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Ways to Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article When to NOT Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE