Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Play Signals

October 22, 2012

Today in class we talked about friendships and play in young kids. Yep, I get to go to class and learn about play. (It’d be that much better if we could have some practical experience, but you can’t have it all.) One of the things we talked about is the fact that play is a child’s way of learning social competence. When kids play, they learn to read social cues, called play signals, that they’ll be building on or the rest of their lives. We went on to talk about the fact that adults aren’t good judges of what’s really happening on a playground. They are not always good at judging whether kids are playing or fighting, and as a society we have started to lean toward protecting our kids from all conflict possible, including conflict in play. As an example, the Lincoln Public Schools won’t let kids lay tag on the playground, because they don’t want them getting hurt and they don’t want there to be bullying or conflict on the playground. My professor, who has done a good bit of research in this area, said that because we’re taking away so much of the conflict in children’s’ early play they’re not learning to read some of those play signals. Consequently, they’re less socially competent and confident as they get older.

For as long as I’ve been working summer programs I’ve seen blind students who lack social skills. I imagine a lot of it is because they didn’t learn to read these play signals as children, either because they weren’t invited to play by kids their own age or because they were overprotected by their parents. They never had the opportunity to learn that when someone runs up to you, taps your shoulder, and says “tag, you’re it” they’re inviting you to play and not being aggressive or mean. But now this is something that society is seeing as a whole. So my question is, are there ways to help kids catch up on those social skills they miss out on? In particular, how can we help our blind kids fill in these social gaps and learn to read the play signals?