Day 4 Highlights
Play as the Antidote for COVID-19 Trauma and Toxic Stress
“I’ve been seeing that a lot of our participants are saying, ‘I’ve found my people!’” -- Denisha Jones

Peter Gray on How play can support the body in response to trauma and toxic stress…

“Play is empowering to children. Every aspect of it promotes learning and development. In real life, children are small. But in play, a child is powerful. They are making their own decisions—play is freely chosen and self-directed. When children show a need for power, they pretend they are powerful—they play that they are Superheroes. This is how they overcome a sense of victimization. Children play OUT the stresses of their lives, they don’t use play to avoid them.”

“Clearly, this has been a stress for parents and it’s also a stress for the children, but research is showing that both children and parents, on average, have been less stressed now than before the schools’ closures. Twice as many children said they were calmer now. Twice as many parents answered the same. 73% of parents said they were having fewer conflicts with children since being at home. School itself is stressful. Kindergarten is turning out to be highly stressful to children. We can’t go back to that. We have to learn a lesson. We have to let this experience of children at home, away from school, observing children play, observing children’s resilience—we have to go back to something saner than what we had before.”  

Jesse Coffino on Balancing the need for play in the time of social distancing…

“Young children will seek to understand the world, themselves and others in their own powerful ways. In this discovery and exploration, children are weighing the relative truth value of a series of propositions. What happens when I stack this on top of that? What happens when I jump? What is gravity and force and language and what are the truths of human values and relationships? This crucial need of a child to freely create their own understanding of the world is what we often call play. When children do this without our intervention, or interruption, Ms. Cheng calls this natural trajectory “true play.” This true play is also the most natural, most lasting and most powerful form of learning, growth and development for the child and for the adult too."

“Children play. It’s what they do. It’s what they need. It forms a foundation of safety for a child. The knowledge and experience allow a child to face an uncertain and changing world. This question of balancing play in a time of social distancing is an interesting one, and it involves the adult. When we’re working with schools, we’re talking about ideal arrangements, environments, materials, ways adults can be present, engage the child, creating an ecosystem where the focus of the adult is on understanding and respecting the child, that places love and risk and joy and engagement at its heart. If we can only do one thing, we must step back and allow our children to play. They need to be seen and heard. We can be present, step back, provide love and respect, routines, clearly organized materials, simple expectation, roles and responsibilities. This allows for an incredible degree of freedom and self-sufficiency and mastery. They need those longer blocks of time to process what they are encountering. They need freedom from our adult needs and anxieties. They need a base level of safety, and that gives them freedom to play.” 
Kate Woodford on How play-based family childcare providers can support children and parents at home…

“Because of our deeper relationships with children and parents, we have a unique ability to help them translate play-based learning to the home environment. Parents feel an expectation to be ON 100% of the time, scheduling activities and playing with them. We as teachers have to show parents how learning is happening during self-directed play. I think it helps them to know that the majority of the day in my program their children are playing and they don’t need me at all.”

“When we give them trust and freedom, children can learn more than we can imagine. I implement the Anji approach in my classroom and spend a lot of time watching them play by themselves and see how they are learning. One thing I tell all of my parents is to step back and trust their children, their innate capacities, their interests, and trust that through play they are learning. I encourage parents to set up times when children have space away from them—children in self-directed play, while parents work or handle their responsibilities. When that happens, the time that they DO spend together engaging is much more connected and fulfills the needs that the children are seeking out in stressful times.”

 Kisha Reid on How play can mitigate the loss of learning as a result of schools closing…

“We need to take this time and start to change what school looks like. We need to change the emphasis from preparing children for school to preparing schools for children. We need to implement respect for childhood and human development and focusing on the whole child. When children are allowed to play in these ways, they just soar.”

“I don’t do lesson plans ahead of time. There are 50-million things going on in my classroom, so I do a lot of documentation of what’s going on in my classroom. My role is to observe and take that to the parents, and sometimes to the child, and share with them what happened. Then I can alter the environment as I see that I need to, and just allow the children to grow and learn.” 

Marcy Guddemi on How pretend play is therapeutic and how parents and teachers can facilitate it…

“We need to seize this opportunity for change that has its new paradigm on social justice, equity, and with play as the foundation. And we need to be the advocates for the new paradigm for unstructured play and experiential learning.”

“All play is important, but socio-dramatic play may be the highest form of play—it involves pretend play that includes others. Children act out and dramatize their stresses and that brings healing. They need a lot of time for socio-dramatic play because they spend a lot of time setting the stage. And they may need someone to play with them in a role-play way and need props like masks for playing 'virus' and signs for pretend protests.“

Dibbs in Search of Self – Virginia Axline 1947

 We hope you enjoyed the 2020 DEY Virtual Summer Institute!

What's Next . . .

  • We will send out the recorded session next week to all who registered.
  • We will send out a survey on Monday about the Institute which will include a question about what Working Groups DEY should form.
  • In August we will announce the Working Groups and will send out a link for you to sign-up.

We are Stronger and Louder Together! These last four days have shown us all just how true this is. Thank you!
We will be keeping each session that was livestreamed on our Facebook page. Check it out.