To Play With Purpose

Luis* ran up to Sammy as she entered the room. “Sammy, Sammy! I have something for you.” Sammy watched Luis pull his other hand from behind his back. “You left this yesterday.” The five-year old held a magnetic train car in his hand, lifting it up to Sammy. “Thank you so much, Luis!”

“It may seem like something small, but a year ago many of the children may have been more likely to keep the toy to themselves,” laughed Sammy. “Instances like this are proof the children are learning how to play well with each other.”

One year ago this month, children from Imperio de Amor Children’s Home moved to Douglas Children’s Home. New patterns and regular habits had to be introduced and developed when the large group of children arrived.

“We immediately noticed the lack of organization when it came to their play habits,” shared Irving Cantu, Back2Back staff. “The children preferred to run around loudly over sitting down with a board game or learning how to play imaginatively with each other.”

Staff and caregivers began to notice children getting board games out and, when they didn’t know how to play, throwing the pieces in the air. They began to intentionally take time to reorient the way each child approached games and playtime. By using strategies within Play with a Purpose, the children are learning new, less aggressive ways to play together.

“Play involves so much interaction,” stated Sammy. “Once they were able to sit down and learn how to play something new with their peers they began to have fun and learn new things. Play is an integral part of their growth. They are learning how to play calmly and effectively.”

Luis is just one child who continues to show growth. In addition to returning a train car to Sammy, he’s also learning the value of sharing and waiting his turn.

“The children were playing with Legos recently and Luis wanted the wheels to finish a car he was building, but someone else was using them,” shared Sammy. “He calmly asked to have them when they were done and waited patiently for his turn. We are seeing this kind of change in each of the children.”

The children at Douglas Children’s Home are learning how to play well with others, but they are also learning the joy of using their imaginations, as well. “It’s really fun to hear them bring scenarios to life – an imaginary accident with toy cars and calling the ambulance are just a couple ways we can see the children actively playing as they should.”