Play is the avenue through which children learn to relate to others. Playful Connections teaches children to play in novel ways that increase language and communication while emphasizing relationship development and connecting with adults and peers. In addition, the therapists facilitate the development of skills that lay the foundation for higher-level academic and conversational skills such as:
- Joint attention
- Shared imagination
- Sharing and turn-taking
- Listening skills
- Emotional regulation
Each session incorporates a theme and may include:
- Circle Time – music, sharing, and thinking about each other
- Playful Connections – introduce theme, lessons, and concepts; practice shared imaginative activities
- Facilitated Play – game related to daily theme or concept
- Art or Sensory Activity – related to the theme and used to help facilitate social goals
- Parent/Caregiver Wrap-up – Review concepts and discuss specific social communication goals and how to practice them at home.
Each group includes 2–4 students and meets for 45–60 minutes 1–2 times weekly.
Although the program includes a wide range of topics and lessons, some examples of concepts explored are:
Whole-Body Listening – Students are taught how to keep their whole body (eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, and brain) focused on the group in order to show that they are listening.
Social Wondering- Students learn to “wonder” about their peers during various play routines. For example, when playing with pretend food, the kids may find out what each of the other kids likes to eat. This teaches them early perspective taking (that other people have thoughts and feelings that may be different from their own).
“Play is the pathway to inclusion.” - Pamela J. Wolfberg
“Play is a child’s work.” - Michelle Garcia Winner