As professionals working with kids we know that children learn a great deal from “playing” with each other. They learn to interact socially, learn about their environment and how the world works. It is important for children to have unstructured time to play together without adults directing the action.
Unfortunately we also know that there are some children who often struggle with this unstructured play. Arguments and fights develop quickly and get out of hand. Some children find it really difficult to resolve problems among themselves.
In my experience, these children really benefit from us supporting them with these skills. Here are some of the ways I work with children in this area.
1. Ask children questions about their game playing
Given the importance of game playing skills, when I'm working with kids I routinely ask about their recess/lunch/after school play with their siblings and friends. For example here are some questions which might be useful to ask children (either in a classroom situation, written “playtime quiz” or when working with children one on one:
Who are you playing with at the moment?
What games are you playing?
When was the last time you/your friend got mad during those games?
What are you good at when playing with friends?
When do you need an adult’s help when playing with friends/siblings?
Once we are aware of how kids are going with their game playing, we can then look at the kind of skill development needed.
2. Helping children generate useful “rules” or guidelines to play
Before working on an area with a child, I attempt to see if I can get their permission. For example, I might say:
"Could we do some brainstorming together to make playing games more fun?"
I then ask children to think about specific games they play rather than “playing” in general. If parents are working with me – I’ll ask parents to help identify games they know the child/their siblings play together.
For example:Read More