PromPtIng the dAbblIng chIld to PlAy • 29
1. The child has exhausted all known play activity possibili-
ties and intrinsic motivation has vanished.
2. The child is no longer actively engaged in the play activity.
3. The child suddenly is more focused on attending to the
end of the play activity rather than the means of it.
4. The child’s once playful, nonliteral behavior has turned
rigid and pressing.
5. The child’s play is restrained, not free.
(Van Hoorn et al. 2003, 5)
Key intervention Guidelines
To prompt the dabbling child to play, use creative thinking,
nature, and music activities along with the seven senses of sen-
sory integration. When prompting play, model progression
through the play activity, preferably in guided steps or a sequenc-
ing of skills. Be sensitive to and respectful of the child who may
not want you in his play space. Play intervention works only when
the child is receptive. Barging in and forcing a child to “do this” or
to “do that” doesn’t support positive play efforts. A fine line exists
between letting a child “play out” problems for a while and inter-
vening before the problem flourishes. Remember that journaling
is especially helpful, as is looking closely at a child’s individual
PLEAS C ME information. Journal in detailed notes about when
and how intensely children dabble. Doing so will help you dis-
cover patterns or uncover root causes.
Key intervention strategies for prompting a dabbling child to
Enhance the curriculum and play materials regularly and •
Change the environment and rotate play materials regularly •
Connect dabblers to a play-directing peer (a play buddy). •
Pair the child with a zealous playtime peer. Peer modeling is
wonderful for dabbling children.
Keep the atmosphere noncompetitive and orderly.•
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