INDIVIDUAL PLAY SESSIONS
An individual space is offered, wherein the child is free to discover himself through the medium of Play (various games and toys are available, such as puppets, drawing, dolls’ house, construction games, water and sand play…), free to express what he has to express, in his unique way. This activity was developed for children with unique needs and those who ask for individual attention. The process is accompanied by an adult presence who plays the role of “witness”.
By allowing children to play freely and express in their own way their focus / issue of the moment, within a few set boundaries and in an atmosphere of loving support, we want to:
- Provide the opportunity for children to explore themselves, to be themselves, to find their Joy, this Joy that connects to a deeper layer inside, in the presence of an adult, having a role of “witness of an awakening” (Témoin d’Eveil).
- Allow children facing challenges to find their own way of dealing with them.
- Contribute to a balanced unfolding of children’s potentials, by providing equilibrium between group and individual time.
Who comes to the Playroom?
This activity is meant especially for children who show certain particularities like difficulties to get along with other children, shyness, tendency towards hyperactivity, problems with concentration, etc… In cases where these are linked to a late development of motor skills, a speech difficulty, or hearing problem, we advise the parents to meet with specialized people. However this activity can help for such specific difficulties too.
Children, who simply ask to come, can also come. Sometimes, for one reason or another, a child needs individual attention and knows it. And sometimes, we believe a child needs it and he doesn’t. So we try to stay open to the children’s own wisdom, because they are the ones who know their own needs best, if we are able to hear them…
How are the sessions conducted?
So what do we do in the playroom…? “Self unfolding through non-directive individual play sessions” could be a title summarizing the idea. It is a bit long but we haven’t found better :-)! The method is similar to what is called “non-directive play therapy” (started by Virginia Axline in the 50s). However, therapy is not a suitable word, as this activity is offered to many children, is very much taking place in the Present, without a precise diagnosis and without expectations on the child. Of course, we follow the children’s development along the sessions. For us, life in itself is a “therapy”, we are all and at all times growing out of nature’s shells into… SomethingElse ;-).
We know all children learn through play, they have fun with it, so it seems like a nice approach towards Self realization. The session is centered on the child, and that means he is the one who leads the play. The child should feel accepted as he is, feel as comfortable and free as possible to do / express what he needs to (within a few set boundaries – see below). I am there to acknowledge and sometimes reflect to the child some of the facts or feelings he expresses so that he gains insight in his behavior, feels accepted and free to change or continue. Reflecting can be done by putting into words some scenes that are played, or repeating what is said by the child, engage in a humorous dialogue scene, or simply by listening and staying Present. Each way is according to the child and the moment. In no case do we direct the play or conversation.
A few limitations are set in order to anchor the session into reality, to make the child aware of his/ her responsibility in the relationship with the adult, and to provide an atmosphere of security. The rules are: no destruction of the play material or the room furniture, no violence against the adult or himself.
- The sessions usually happen on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and last ½ hour to 1 hour. With some children, it can also be a single session.
- This activity is offered, not imposed, and we keep a certain discretion as to what happens in the sessions so that the child feels freer to open up.
The room is designed so as to provide an atmosphere of loving protection, that is to say it is small and protected from disturbance of other activities or people. The children ask themselves for this privacy. Often, they even check that no one can enter. There is also an outer area for sand and water play or other games.
Various games are available. Amongst them: puppets, dolls and masks for play-acting, story books, drawing material, plasticine, blocks for construction, puzzles, educational games (memory games, lotto, dominos, etc…), dolls house, cooking set, doctor set, baby doll, plastic animals, cars, toys to play with water and sand, cleaning tools…