Sally Thornley is our own Accredited PTUK Play Therapist. Play Therapists are trained to use play, a child’s natural form of self-expression, as a means for understanding and communicating with children about feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Play Therapy helps children to recover from difficult life experiences, modify their behaviours, build positive relationships and find healthy ways to communicate. Play Therapy also benefits those children whose play is seen as solitary, repetitive or restricted. Individual or small group play sessions aim to develop and extend the social communication and/or developmental dimensions of each child’s play. Improving social and emotional development helps children to be more receptive to teaching and therefore enables them to learn more effectively.
Play Therapy differs from conventional play, this means that the child is free to choose what to explore and how to do so within safe limits and boundaries. The Play Therapist is taught how to contain and hold emotional responses and therefore the child is given the opportunity to explore powerful feelings and difficult experiences. This is psychologically beneficial to the child as play assists the release of opioids and oxytocin our ‘feel good’ hormones. The release of these hormones helps children to reduce their own anxiety levels helping them to feel safe and secure.
The Play Room is structured in such a way as to promote our children’s social and emotional wellbeing through their evolving play skills. It is designed to allow children the complete freedom of choice within safe, predictable boundaries. The resources lend themselves to storytelling and symbolic play which enable the children to consider and acknowledge their feelings and teaches them how to manage these in a safe and constructive way. They allow the children to represent and reflect upon their life experiences through the fostering of imagination and creativity.
How Play Therapy can help children in Getting Ready For Learning
For children play is a natural form of communication as often they do not have the words to describe their thoughts, feelings or experiences. Play Therapy helps children who are struggling with social and emotional difficulties to cope with their feelings and emotions in a safe and constructive way. If children do not feel happy and safe this may act as a barrier to their learning. The capacity to play with curiosity and creativity provides children with the capacity to engage with their learning. If this ability is nurtured, the child becomes happier, confident and more fulfilled enabling them to be more receptive to the teaching and learning that takes place in school.