I recently had the fantastic opportunity to attend both the Introduction (2 days) and Advanced (2 days) training courses with Karen Stagnitti, learning how to play even better than before.
Karen is an Occupational Therapist (OT) by training, who worked for more than 20 years in community-based paediatric and specialist early childhood intervention programs. In the 90‘s she became serious about researching children’s play. In 2003 she was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy from La Trobe University in Melbourne. Her research work was primarily focused on how to measure the quality of children’s pretend play in therapy. She has developed assessments for pretend play, trained and supervised many research students and continues to research children’s play. Karen has developed an intervention play therapy program called Learn To Play for the early years and Imagine, Create Belong for 11-15 year olds. She continues to be a speaker and trainer globally on my most favourite subject: Play. In particular, the importance of pretend play in children’s development.
Play to Learn
I am fortunate to be working at My Therapy House as the Development Through Play Therapist. I am able to, in collaboration with the Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists, tailor the children’s play sessions to suit their individual needs and interests. When planning each child’s session, I am mindful of the level of play they are working at. Karen Stagnitti has formalised a checklist to assist placing the child at a level of play development. She has also produced parent booklets for parents to check off to assist with placing their child at the level of play development they are operating at. It is very important to then work with the child at that level they are assessed to be at. If therapy is aimed at too high a level the child will disengage.
In my 37 years of combined preschool teaching and early years intervention I have always been passionate about the importance of play. This is often an area that can be misjudged and considered as not important in the child’s development. It was so very refreshing and validating to join Karen as she spoke of the importance of play especially pretend play in the development of children holistically and celebrate all the research, she has done to ensure her Learn To Play approach is evidenced-based.
Moving forward I intend to further familiarise myself with her assessment process and share this with our families and the staff at My Therapy House®.