Assessing Play Skills- In the Playground!

Preschool therapy- am I done yet?

Now you have scrounged up your materials, using a few of the suggested items on the list in this blog post. You’ve been working for a week or two with your book, their literacy skills are improving and they love the games and crafts you have been doing.  Your students have increased their language to talk about your theme during these structured activities. 

So, what is missing?

Is your therapy done when your preschoolers are using their new words in your routine? Assessing play skills with Looks Like Language
PLAY!
Play is such an important part of learning for young  children that it is vital to include it in your therapy sessions. When children really have the language that you have been modeling, you will see it emerge in their play.

The opposite relationship is also true! If the child has not yet used the language, but begins to demonstrate comprehension of the concepts in play, the language is more likely to emerge!

A Bit of Background

If you work with young children and are not already familiar with the play scale from Carol Westby, download it NOW!

Patricia Prelock wrote an excellent chapter on understanding and assessing play, which you can download here.



If you are looking for an overview of research on play and the findings, you can access a great article by  Lifter et al. (2011) here.

Observing Play
What better spring theme for preschoolers than the playground?  Observe your students while they’re out there.

Social Interactions
Students may be using “my turn” and “please’” under our watchful eye in the therapy room, but if it isn’t being used on the playground, you still have some generalization work to do. Some kids may be interacting with each other on the equipment while others may be following their own agenda. If this is the case, check to see if they are at least looking at the other kids occasionally to see what everyone else is up to. It gives you some important information for determining their independent level of play.

Cause/Effect
The student who pushes the kid in front of him on the slide and then looks bothered when the child screams his way down may have weak prediction and cause-effect skills. This child is just acting on a desire to be done waiting and may not be able to think ahead  and plan yet. Time to work some safety issues into your playground play!

Wandering
You may say see some students, especially those with ASD, wandering aimlessly around the area rather than engaging in the playground activities.  While there can be many components to this, one of them is likely to be unfamiliarity with exactly what is expected.

Now that you have observed, what can you do about it in therapy? Here are a literacy set  and a visual sentence building activity set to get you started, but come back next week for some tips! 

P.S. I hope you enjoyed having a reason to go outside for therapy on a beautiful day!
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