Title

The Impact of Play: A Safe Environment for Social-Emotional Learning

First Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

Second Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Session 1 (Ballroom D)

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

“The Impact of Play: A Safe Environment for Social-Emotional Learning” aligns with the “Head” and “Heart” NYAR 5H conference strands. A person’s ability to navigate emotions, recognize the impact of those emotions, and productively manage relationships directly effects one’s cognitive ability to both receive information and successfully process and apply it. By using playful structures to provide emotional intelligence training, we can create a safe space for youth to develop a sense of value, belonging, and competence that, in turn, promotes a learning environment in which students feel comfortable taking risks, failing forward, and experiencing achievement. This foundation of emotional stability will provide students with a framework that promotes a positive outlook, a motivated mind, and a resilient spirit.

Brief Program Description

Designed for educators and other youth development practitioners, we will engage in playful activities that build social-emotional capacity, make connections on the benefits of playful learning, and share insights on how play can be incorporated in order to provide students a safe context for making choices that promote a positive outlook, motivated mind, and resilient spirit.

Summary

As defined by the Hampshire Play Policy Forum in The Critical Place of Play in Education (2015), “play is an essential part of every child’s life and vital to its development. …It is essential for physical, emotional and spiritual growth, for intellectual and educational development, and for acquiring social and behavioral skills.”

We seek to provide playful strategies that educators and other youth development practitioners can use to engage students in making connections among the multiple skills needed to manage one’s socio-emotional competencies, achieve academic success, and accomplish career goals. We have synthesized findings from the US Play Coalition, The Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI), and the recent report From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, and we will share this information through a valuable, transferable learning experience. Session facilitators will provide insight on the benefits of incorporating play into our learning communities, allow participants to experience playful learning, and share recommendations on how to accomplish this. Participants will be asked to engage in a playful activity that serves as a springboard for social and emotional growth and prepares the brain for new learning. Facilitators will divide participants into manageable teams, support teams throughout the activity, and provide experiential learning questions to guide participants as they discover the methodology of learning through play. After engaging in the activity, we will work as a community to process the activity, gain insight from each other, and make connections on how the activity can be applied in various youth development settings. Participants will receive support materials to help them implement the activity in their classrooms or youth organizations with confidence and success.

Evidence

A person’s ability to navigate emotions, recognize the impact of those emotions, and productively manage relationships directly effects one’s cognitive ability to not only receive information but also to successfully process and apply it. Intentionally providing opportunities for youth to safely develop social and emotional competencies will better equip them for both academic and career success. Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child writes, “no one is born with executive function skills, but nearly everyone can learn them. Our genes provide the blueprint for learning these skills, but they develop through experiences and practice.” In their three-step guide Executive Function 101, it is written, “when children have opportunities to develop executive function and self-regulation skills, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits.” Further evidence on the importance of play is found in the current NAEYC Developmentally Appropriate Practice position statement:

Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation as well as promoting language, cognition and social competence. …Children of all ages love to play, and it gives them opportunities to explore the world, interact with others, express and control emotions, develop their symbolic and problem-solving abilities, and practice emerging skills. Research shows the links between play and foundational capacities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills and success in school.

Play provides youth the opportunity to safely succeed and/or fail without fear. As recommended in From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, we must, “bridge the divide between scholarly research and what’s actionable in schools and classrooms.” Considering this, we utilize Malcolm Knowles’ Four Principles of Andragogy to inform our practice in leading adults: 1) adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction; 2) experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for the learning activities; 3) adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life; and 4) adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented. By combining these principles with David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle of experience, reflection, conceptualization, and action, we intend to provide participants with an experience they can immediately implement in their areas of youth development.

We believe that all humans need to feel accepted, need a place to belong, and need to know they matter. Incorporating play into our youth development programs creates a culture of acceptance and belonging. By intentionally creating playful activities that give youth permission to play, an environment emerges that inclusive of all learners and allows each individual’s strengths to shine. Through play, peers begin to see each other for who they are rather than from where they come.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Catherine Moore is the Instructional Course Designer and a ThinkShops Training Specialist for Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute. She has many years of experience developing curriculum, implementing best practices, and delivering training to schools, state agencies, and business organizations. She was a member of the South Carolina English Language Arts College and Career Readiness Standards Writing Committee and has worked with a variety of learners ranging from middle level and high school youth to adults in higher education settings. Throughout her career, she has presented professional development information at conferences, schools, and various organizations. Catherine truly enjoys creating learning experiences for both adult and youth learners. She believes each person has unique gifts and strengths, and it is the interconnectedness of these strengths that not only brings about good for each other but also our world.

Emily Claypool is a ThinkShops™ Training Specialist with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute. Emily’s background in teaching English to speakers of other languages has allowed her the opportunity to lead professional development in more than five countries. Specializing in soft skills for transnational contexts, she has partnered with the U.S. State Department to provide trainings for educators, government officials, and social entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. Emily believes in the capacity of every individual to contribute positively to her or his community through effective communication and collaboration

Keyword Descriptors

Play, Safe Space, Education, Classroom, Social-Emotional Learning, Life Skills

Presentation Year

2020

Start Date

3-9-2020 10:30 AM

End Date

3-9-2020 11:45 AM

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Mar 9th, 10:30 AM Mar 9th, 11:45 AM

The Impact of Play: A Safe Environment for Social-Emotional Learning

Session 1 (Ballroom D)

Designed for educators and other youth development practitioners, we will engage in playful activities that build social-emotional capacity, make connections on the benefits of playful learning, and share insights on how play can be incorporated in order to provide students a safe context for making choices that promote a positive outlook, motivated mind, and resilient spirit.