Here are a few instances where it may be better to sit back and observe children, rather than stepping in or interrupting their play:

When children appear completely engrossed in their work. If children, whether playing alone or in a small group, are engaged in play that is industrious and captivating, it is not necessary to step in.  Look for opportunities to step in when children’s play seems stagnate or when you see that a nudge in a different direction would extend the children’s play. 

When children are talking through a conflict. If children are actively seeking a solution to a problem, hold back and allow them to generate their own solutions.  They may not use the nicest tone of voice, or as much patience as we would like, but those skills can be discussed later.  Don’t stop the momentum of the problem solving to coach small details. Once the scenario has played out, acknowledge the children for using their words to communicate and point out the positive actions that you noticed.  This will give children clues as to what they can use next time a conflict arises.

When your engagement would not add anything valuable to the play. This happens often when children are engaged in play and a teacher approaches them, stops their work, and asks them a question that is unrelated to their play.  For example, imagine a child who is building a structure in the bock area.  A teacher approaches the child and says, “How many blocks did you use to build your tower?” The child replies, “It isn’t a tower, it’s a spaceship.”  The teacher amends the original question and the child stops working to count the blocks. This type of interruption and irrelevant line of questioning does not add anything to the child’s play.  Consider asking open ended questions that encourage children to tell you a story about their 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 Director’s Corner: Encouraging Teachers to Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE