Last October, as part of us developing our own ‘Play Strategy’, FE tutor Annette Maynard was given an opportunity to accept a secondment to teach support workers in all eight children residential houses about the value of play. This involved teaching child development and looking at developmental milestones reflecting on the children and young people they work with.
This enabled staff to increase their knowledge learning theories from the likes of Jean Piaget, in addition to social and imaginative skills. This would then give them the confidence to interact with the children at the developmental level.
First, Annette conducted an audit on all the play equipment on all the houses, in addition to creating charts and activity sheets tailored for each residence. This allowed her to implement a strategy, in line to the children’s EHCP’s, to ensure that every resident had the play resources available to them. In doing so, she symbolised each toy so that they are balanced and categorised by developmental levels.
“It is important opportunities are given to the children to develop as an individual through play, allowing them to use their creativity while developing their imagination dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength,” said Annette.
This work has been recognised an overwhelming success both internally and externally. One of the highlights to come out of this scheme includes positive interaction between the children and their support workers, having fun in activities organised on the houses and hearing laughter. “We’ve seen children from different houses play outside together with a parachute singing songs. It really is great and we attain our original goal of injecting motivation, fun and creativity to a child’s life,” Annette adds.
There is still more for us to do in developing our play strategy, which includes exploring which elements of this work we extend to our adult residential homes.