DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Helping Children Enter and Sustain Play play isn ’ t easy Sandra Heidemann and Deborah Hewitt COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET e When Play Isn’t Easy Helping Children Enter and Sustain Play S a n d ra H ei d e ma n n a n d De b or a h H e wi t t Name: Date: COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Also from Redleaf Press by Sandra Heidemann and Deborah Hewitt: When Play Isn’t Fun: Helping Children Resolve Play Conflicts Play: The Pathway from Theory to Practice, revised edition of Pathways to Play From Deborah Hewitt: So This Is Normal Too?, second edition Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 © 2014 by Sandra Heidemann and Deborah Hewitt All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition 2014 Cover design by Erin New Cover photographs by Steve Wewerka Interior design by Erin New Typeset in Adobe Garamond Pro and Futura Printed in the United States of America 21  20 19 18 17 16 15 14  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Heidemann, Sandra, 1946-   When play isn’t easy : helping children enter and sustain play / Sandra Heidemann, Deborah Hewitt.        pages cm    Summary: “When children have difficulty joining play or participating in group play, it’s important to pinpoint the challenges that are occurring. This book focuses on the reasons why play might not be easy for children—due to language delays, shyness, special needs, or trauma, for example—and provides specific language and activities to facilitate play and help children improve their play skills” — Provided by publisher.    ISBN 978-1-60554-307-9 (paperback) 1. Play—Psychological aspects. 2. Education, Preschool. 3. Child psychology. 4. Child development.   I. Hewitt, Debbie, 1958- II. Title.   LB1139.35.P55H45 2014   303.3'2—dc23                                                             2013044404 Printed on acid-free paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET e Contents Introduction 5 Chapter 1 Learning from Play 10 Chapter 2 Sharing the Value of Play 15 Chapter 3 The Play Surveys and Connections through Play 21 Chapter 4 Understanding Play Difficulties 27 Chapter 5 Using the Play Checklist 34 with Objects 1 Pretending 39 2 Role-Playing 41 3 Verbalizations about the Play Scenario 43 4 Verbal Communication during a Play Episode 46 in Play 5 Persistence 48 6 Interactions 51 into a Play Group 7 Entrance 53 8 Problem Solving 56 9 Turn Taking 59 of Peers 10 Support 62 Chapter 6 Planning Your Focus and Strategies 66 Chapter 7 Planning Your Role 74 Chapter 8 Reflecting on Your Experience 82 Play Checklist 88 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Dear Reader, This book and its companion reflect a renewed interest in play and how very important it is in the healthy development of children. In this new world of technology, play continues to be the most powerful force for learn- ing in a young child’s life. And our job as people who teach young children is to provide the best environment for play to happen. The first book, When Play Isn’t Fun: Helping Children Resolve Play Conflicts, focuses on setting up your environment, schedule, and curriculum for play and highlights several group-play challenges and how to address them. This book, When Play Isn’t Easy: Helping Children Enter and Sustain Play, offers a detailed look at the Play Checklist introduced in our book Play: The Pathway from Theory to Practice, plus an exploration of how play connects to early learning stan- dards. The books build on information from Play and can be an additional resource to it. The books move from designing your learning environment to maximize play, to helping groups of children resolve barriers to more productive play, to helping individual children learn better play skills. The books could be used on your own, with your teaching team, or by your organization. They could be the basis of workshops. As we began these books, we decided to ask friends and family about their experiences with play. Their memories are touching, funny, and poignant. Many of their quotes are included in the books. Those of us who care for children have many possible roles: teacher, assis- tant teacher, aide, family child care provider, specialist, and others. We all interact with children as they play. We have chosen to use the term teacher when referring to all adults working in our field. We are all teachers in each of our roles. The suggestions are valuable whatever your title. We have used the term learning environment to refer to the variety of set- tings we see in early childhood. We hope these books help you to remember your own play experiences and use those memories to strengthen the play experiences for the children in your care. As you increase your intentionality with regard to play in your learning environment, children will show you their delight in new and fas- cinating ways. Sandy & Debbie COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction e DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET The companion to this book, When Play Isn’t Fun, discusses how to set up your environment and plan activities for play. It also explores several group-play chal- lenges children encounter and how you can help children solve them. This book, When Play Isn’t Easy, also looks at play challenges but through the experience of the individual child. The book begins by outlining how play meets standards and helps you articulate your beliefs about the value of play. It moves to discussing the Play Checklist, which helps you identify what the child is doing in play. If you have children in your learning environment who experience difficulties during play, this book can help you identify problems and write goals to support children as they try out new play skills. Time to Reflect Sometimes individual children show us troublesome behaviors during play. Describe one child’s behavior that bugs you when the child is playing with others. ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Why do you think the behavior bothers you? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Looking at Your Role Before children even enter your learning environment, you prepare by designing the space to play in, providing props related to a theme, and setting aside enough time in your schedule so children have an extended playtime. Once you have set the stage, it is time for the children to become involved in play. Your involvement isn’t done, however. You continue to have a role in observing play and document- ing children’s skill development and because children sometimes need help: COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 5  DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET • finding props for the play. • solving conflicts. • joining play. • sustaining play. At times teachers use the free-choice time as an opportunity to take a break, finish a project, or prepare. It is easy to disengage with the children when they are hap- pily playing. But your role as a teacher continues even then. Following are some reasons teachers don’t interact with children during play: Adults don’t know what to do. Adults don’t understand how play skills develop and don’t know what to do to encourage more and deeper play. Adults believe that play is not as valuable as other activities. Adults see play as something to fill time for children and don’t see the learning that takes place. Adults emphasize early literacy and math separately from play. Adults don’t see how to integrate literacy and math into play. They think math and literacy need to be taught with direct, adult-led activities. Adults believe children will play naturally and don’t need adult help. Adults may remember play as older children or in settings outside of a classroom. Adults use the time children are playing to do other chores. Adults will com- plete tasks such as taking attendance, preparing for groups, preparing for snack, and cleaning up rather than engaging with children during play. Adults worry they will interfere with and interrupt children’s play, perhaps harming them. Adults have absorbed the traditional view of play that adults should not be part of play experience and that if they are, they could hamper the children’s participation. It is true that children don’t need adults to be with them all the time while they play and sometimes adults can even get in the way. However, you provide valuable support to children who are struggling to learn play skills. They need you to observe carefully during play, identify where their struggles and strengths are, and offer strategies to help them improve their play skills. This book is designed to help you give that support. 6 | Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Time to Reflect What do you see adults doing while children are playing? Why do you think this is so? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Self-Assessment The following self-assessment is intended to help you reflect on what you know about children’s individual play skill development, how you analyze and plan from your observations, and how you choose strategies and a role for yourself while sup- porting a child learning play skills. The self-assessment reflects your understanding at this time, but you will learn more about each item as you cover the indicated chapter. 1 When I observe a child at play, I can determine how the child’s play connects to early learning standards. (chapter 1) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 2 When a parent or coworker questions the value of play, I know how to respond. (chapter 2) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 3 I reflect on the ways play has changed for children and find ways to keep it fresh for them. (chapter 3) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 4 I wonder about children’s play experiences outside of the classroom and how those affect them. (chapter 4) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 5 When a child isn’t playing with others, I observe closely to learn why. (chapter 4) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 6 When I observe a child having difficulty with play skills, I write down my observations and reflect on them. (chapter 5) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction | 7  DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 7 When a child isn’t speaking during play, I sit near the child and encourage the child to speak to her peers. (chapter 5) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 8 I add a sensorimotor activity to dramatic play if I have a child who has a very short attention span. (chapter 5) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 9 I help the child who uses force to enter a play group learn new ways to join the group. (chapter 5) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 10 I encourage children to notice the distress of others and offer assistance. (chap- ter 5) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 11 When a child is having difficulty during play, I make a plan to help him. (chapter 6) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 12 I plan what role I will use when helping a child learn play skills. (chapter 7) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never 13 After implementing a plan to help strengthen a child’s play skills, I observe to determine if the plan is working. (chapter 8) a) Always   b) Usually   c) Sometimes   d) Never Your self-assessment is a snapshot of what you know about how children develop play skills and ways you can support them. Your responses can point to areas you want to strengthen. Time to Reflect What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ 8 | Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET What further questions do you have after completing this self-assessment? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Using This Book This book is divided into eight chapters. Chapter 1 explores how play connects to standards. Chapter 2 asks you to reflect on the value of play and how you commu- nicate that value to others. Chapter 3 uncovers the kinds of connections children make through play and shares reflections on the ways play has changed. Chapter 4 describes possible reasons children have difficulty in play, which can range from language differences to special needs. Chapter 5 delves into the ten sections of the Play Checklist. It takes you through each section of the checklist step-by-step. Chapters 6 and 7 help you analyze the results of the Play Checklist, write goals, choose strategies connected to the goal, and define a role for yourself during play with an individual child who is struggling with play skills. Chapter 8 provides an opportunity to reflect on your plans and strategies. By examining how play fulfills early learning standards and practicing responses to questions about the value of play, you will be more able to help parents, col- leagues, and funders support play in your setting. When you complete this book, you will understand how developmental challenges affect children’s play skills, identify where a child is having problems, and form goals and a plan for the child. Finally, you will learn to step back and evaluate the plan to see if it is working. You will continue developing your skills as you go through these steps for children in your group again and again. Supporting children as they learn new play skills is part of becoming an intentional teacher. This book is designed to be interactive and is meant to encourage thought, reflection, and discussion. As you reflect on and then plan and implement new play strategies, you become a more intentional teacher providing children with rich play experiences. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction | 9  DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET e Chapter 1 H Content in this chapter connects with chapter 1 in Play: The Pathway from Theory to Practice. Learning from Play Children eagerly seek out play experiences. They are excited about new toys and ask repeatedly to play certain games. They seek out friends to play house, doctor, fire department, or shopping. When adults develop and write standards that focus on the many developmental gains children make in their earliest years, or when they are teaching children with attention to the standards, they may minimize or miss the powerful learning that happens in the hearts and minds of children as they play. Perhaps you have heard adults state with some amusement, “Oh, they are just playing.” This statement trivializes children’s experiences and dismisses how play inspires, challenges, and changes children. Play is key to young children’s development and is the one of the most influential ways they learn. When I was in preschool, it was fun when it was recess and I was almost done with monkey bars—when I was almost able to do them all without falling. —Johann, age 6 Skills Children Learn through Play When adults first think of what children are learning in play, they think of social skills or learning to share. Children acquire these skills in play, and they learn so much more. Here are some additional ways in which play benefits children: • Children learn how to speak and listen. • Children learn how to make and keep friends. • Children learn how to imagine. • Children learn how to plan ahead. • Children learn how to tell a story. • Children learn how to imagine with objects and props. • Children learn how to take turns. • Children learn how to join in. • Children learn how to use literacy and math in the real world. 10 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET • Children learn how to take risks. • Children learn how to build on interests. Time to Reflect What do you think children learn through play? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ I remember dancing in the basement to Herb Alpert and “The Pink Panther.” I spent hours making up new moves to perform over the furniture, across the floor, and through the doorways. —Becky Connecting Standards to Play More than likely, your state has a set of early learning standards that guide your work with young children. These standards typically address cognitive, physical, language, and socioemotional development. The standards outline what young children are learning in each of these domains. However, clearly identifying these domains in your learning environment can be challenging. As you think about how children are meeting standards in your environment, remember that play helps children learn and develop skills in each of these domains. Time to Reflect Think about your learning environment and answer the following questions: Cognitive: Which play activities challenge children’s thinking? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Learning from Play | 11  DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Physical: Which play activities encourage children to move their large and small muscles? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Language: How do you see children speaking, listening, and communicating in play? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Socioemotional: How do you see children expressing their emotions, understanding others’ emotions, and regulating their feelings during play? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Connecting Play to Standards Another way to understand how play experiences connect to children’s learning is to start with the experience and connect the experience to the standards. Following is an example of a bulletin board one staff developed to illustrate how much chil- dren learn through play. Underneath the play experience, list what children are learning. The learning will probably involve more than one domain. 12 | Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Family bulletin board When children play in the sand, they are learning to: When children play in the house area, they are learning to: When children play in the block area, they are learning to: When children climb on the jungle gym, they are learning to: Engaging the Whole Child Play engages the whole child. When children run and jump, they stimulate their muscles and their brains. As children gain in their language abilities, they are more able to solve their conflicts with words. This is what we mean when we empha- size working with the whole child. Although standards are divided into different domains, always remember that no child is divided into parts. Play helps us pro- vide motivating and engaging activities that give children a developmental boost in all areas. Play gives children opportunities to meet these standards. As you deepen your understanding of your state’s early learning standards, you will see children reaching those standards again and again through play. Your close documentation of the improvements in children’s skills through play will give you relevant material to share with parents and your colleagues. You help children use play as a vehicle to accomplish the standards by setting up a rich environment, scaffolding the play both of groups of children and individual children who are not able to participate fully in play, and implementing plans that support all children as they explore through play. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Learning from Play | 13 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Time to Reflect Observe a child during play for a few minutes. What do you see the child doing? What was the child playing with? What do you think the child was learning? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Where do you see children most engaged in play? Is it outdoors? Is it in certain play areas in your learning environment? What do you see them doing? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ 14 | Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET e Early Childhood Education / Professional Development Support children who are struggling to enter and sustain play most influential ways they learn. Sometimes, though, play isn’t easy for children. They may find it hard to fit in, get along, or collaborate with peers. With your help, children can learn more effective strategies to engage in productive play.    This interactive workbook encourages thought, reflection, and discussion as you carefully observe play, identify where children’s strengths and struggles are, and offer strategies to improve their play skills. It provides a detailed look at the Play Checklist introduced in the authors’ book Play: The Pathway from Theory to Practice and an exploration of how play connects to early learning standards. Use this workbook to deepen your understanding of how developmental challenges affect children’s play skills—and make play an easier, more enjoyable experience for all children. Sandra Heidemann has worked for more than 30 years to improve the quality of early care and education for children, serving as a trainer, director, teacher, and consultant. As classroom coordinator for Numbers Work!, she provides preschool teachers with educational strategies and encouragement. Deborah Hewitt has been serving the early childhood field for over 30 years. Her accomplishments range from working with children and families to designing systems to improve early childhood. Currently, she works for the Minnesota Department of Education as an early childhood education specialist and provides staffing to Minnesota Early Learning Council. “This helpful workbook is filled with practical ideas for enhancing and facilitating young children’s play experiences. The suggestions and activities help individual readers and provide a great foundation for group discussions, staff development workshops, or coursework for early childhood education students.” —Gaye Gronlund, MA, early childhood education consultant and author of Developmentally Appropriate Play and Planning for Play, Observation, and Learning in Preschool and Kindergarten e Play is key to young children’s development and one of the ISBN 978-1-60554-307-9 $12.95 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL