Home Toys Vs Therapy Materials – What’s the difference?

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As a parent I want to make sure my child is learning at home and in therapy.  As an educator, I want to maximize a student’s progress and aid the parent in spending money wisely.

Last week, a parent requested information on where to buy a peg board.  Really, a peg board, how boring!  One of the student’s therapy goals was to put pegs in a peg board – 5 to be exact.  Great target goal.  “Put in”  was something the child was working on at school as well.  My problem:  a peg board is boring, a peg board has little to teach. A  peg board is an excellent therapy or education tool.  However, I do not see it as a toy that will motive the child for independent or social interactions.  There are so many other toys, games and manipulatives that might catch a students imagination and internal drive to learn.

You see a kids job is to play and when a child is motivated, in play, he learns so quickly.  Play pulls all their skills together.  Play activates all their senses.  Play motivates the mind to make connections. So when a parent asks, “What should I purchase for home?”   I reply, “A toy that will motivate them to play.”

Let’s think about the reason the goal was important enough to write on paper.  It is not to teach the child to put a peg in a board but to teach the child the concept of “put in”.  Or, to help the child develop a skill that is making “put in” difficult.  Purchasing an item that motivates them, will help them not only learn the targeted goal but allow the child to develop other skills while learning.  An item that teaches and allows for play will help the child in so many more ways.

Yes, you can try to buy all the items you see in a therapy gym.
However, if you think about why the goal was created.
If you think about the concept behind the goal.
If you think about what motivates your child to interact with the world.
If you ask yourself and your child’s educators and therapists,
To think about play.
Then, you might end up with a game or task,
That inspires.

Remember, a child does not need to understand the game Battle Ship or Connect 4 to enjoy the activity.  Kids that love ships might enjoy putting smoke stacks on the ship or pretending the red pegs are bombs and they are blowing up the ship.  Kids that love patterns may enjoy the creative aspect of making a design by putting checkers into a Connect 4 game.   Think outside of the box and have fun learning.

“Just Playing “

Just Playing
When I’m building in the block room,
Please don’t say I’m “just playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
About balance and shapes.
When I’m getting all dressed up,
Setting the table, caring for the babies.
Don’t get the idea I’m “just playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play
I may be a mother or a father someday.

When you see me up to my elbows in paint,
Or standing at an easel, or molding and shaping clay,
Please don’t let me hear you say “he’s just playing.”
For you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m expressing myself and being creative.
I may be an artist or an inventor someday.

When you see me sitting in a chair
“Reading” to an imaginary audience,
Please don’t laugh and think I’m “just playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
I may be a teacher someday.

When you see me combing the bushes for bugs,
Or packing my pockets with choice things I find,
Don’t pass it off as “just playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
I may be a scientist someday.

When you see me engrossed in a puzzle,
Or some “plaything” at my school,
Please don’t feel the time is wasted in “play”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate.
I may be in business someday.

When you see me cooking or tasting foods,
Please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is just “play.”
I’m learning to follow directions and see differences.
I may be a chef someday.

When you see me learning to skip, hop, run and move my body,
Please don’t say I’m “just playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m learning how my body works.
I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.

When you ask me what I’ve done at school today,
And I say, “I played.”
Please don’t misunderstand me.
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m learning to enjoy and be successful in work.
I’m preparing for tomorrow.
Today, I’m a child and my work is play.

                                                                                                    Anita Wadley (Schlaht)

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