Katy has been running groups for 7-8 years. Using the gym-space, this active play replicates the noisy and boisterous playground. Frequent pauses helps kids reflect on what is working and gain constructive peergroup feedback.
Most children Katy sees have been taught social skills and good manners, but nevertheless don’t easily ‘flow’ in group. Their instincts are to boss others, compete or control. This often creates conflict, or their need to avoid arguments, physical hurt or rules may leave them hovering on the edges of play. Strong personalities or easy irritation hinder play, as does anxiety and a too-strong need to please others.
There are many obstacles to hold a child back from easy integration in group, and supporting each other as they explore one another's thoughts and feelings helps children recognize that others have problems too. It creates a desire to work together to overcome their challenges. It allows them to do less categorizing of others into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, as they gain understanding of different play styles and other's personal qualities.
Each child has individual goals. We try hard to make children aware both of their own goals and of what others are working on – so they can encourage each other in their journey in a positive way. All learn useful language and improved communication and care.
The group collectively work to generate games and activities, and group discussions help them to notice communications and attitudes that are helpful, as well as behaviors that are not. Children become conscious of intention, attention and how to remain aware as circumstances change within the group. They become more adept at reading themselves and others through facial and physical clues. They become conscious of self-monitoring- adapting to situations and individuals. All are encouraged, to whatever level they can manage, to listen, share and be interested in the process of playing, as well as enjoying the fun. The emphasis is on building connections and choosing cooperative actions.