Using play as a tool to teach

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April 16, 2015 8:15 AM

Many parents think that play for children is a break from learning, but there’s a workshop coming to Lloydminster that aims to teach the opposite.

Playful Parenting, hosted by Midwest Family Connections, will introduce a new approach to raising children that addresses behaviour problems, encourages confidence and promotes stronger connections through play.

“The Playful Parenting workshop is being hosted to support families to come together and recognize that play is how children learn,” said Sherri Husch Foote, executive director for MFC. “The workshop is going to help parents think about how they can use play as an important tool in their parenting toolkit.”

The guest speaker for the event will be Lawrence Cohen, PhD, who is an author and licensed psychologist specializing in children’s play and play therapy. He developed this new approach to parenting through his work with families, after-school programs and other experiences from his practice.

Cohen will be speaking about different strategies like having parents use play to incorporate themes into a child’s life.

“So if there is a particular challenge, for example, that they’re experiencing during times of transition with their child, he’ll be able to help them think about how to incorporate, within your play, a lot of good-byes, hellos and reunions. So it normalizes that experience for real life situations for a child,” said Husch Foote.

Other strategies involve using play as an alternate approach to discipline in order to relieve tension during a situation, instead of using more traditional approaches that may elevate it. Husch Foote says that because moments which need discipline are places of tension, that makes them non-teachable moments.

The workshop looks at how to incorporate play so it maintains the relationship, but also makes it clear to the children what the expectations are and teaches them the skills they need to adjust, said Husch Foote.

“(This is an) opportunity for parents to come together and both to learn from the speaker, as well as to hear the questions that one another will have. It’s an opportunity to ask and hear the responses and some of that shared experience, so the peer support from other parents, as well as the presentation from the speaker will certainly be a benefit to both moms and dads in our community.”

The Playful Parenting workshop is free of charge, but there are only 28 spots left so Hush Foote encourages anyone interested to register as soon as possible. The event takes place at Lakeland College on April 23 from 6:45 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 306-825-5911.

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