What is the number one teacher complaint? There just isn’t enough time!
Play-Based Centers is a daily, flexible block of time to address the numerous challenges that teachers face. And honestly, they grow more numerous with each passing year. But there are some years that I am especially thankful for PBC.
One Friday, mid-year, I joined Anne, our school BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) during my PBC block. She had been observing Liam, a non-verbal student in my kindergarten class with an Autism diagnosis. I was especially thankful for Play-Based Centers that year, which allowed time for Anne and me to consult and gave us both an opportunity to observe and build rapport with Liam. Noticing his frequent preference for the Building and Engineering Center, which currently had wooden trains, Anne had set up a behavioral plan, with visual supports, that included extra time to play with the wooden train set as an incentive. Anne and I were able to introduce and practice using this and other supports, such as social stories, with Liam during the play block.
Several weeks later, when doing Ch.E.C.K.-ins, I noticed that during PBC, Liam frequently played with another student named Andy. Mostly it was parallel play, although we had seen some increased interactions between the boys over the last week or so. Andy was a patient and relaxed child, who seemed to accept Liam’s sometimes unexpected behaviors without concern. I documented these observations, and a few days later, when assigning partners for a math sequencing activity, I knew just who to put Liam with.
Liam’s year in kindergarten was not perfect, there were certainly challenges. But it was a good year. A year of progress. Progress that would not have been possible without PBC. Anne and I had the opportunity to establish a relationship with Liam early in the year, and to help him understand and generalize expected behaviors throughout the year. Having the time and flexibility to focus on his needs during PBC made all the difference. As Anne and I observed Liam that day, she smiled and said, “This has been so good for him. Time to play is exactly what he needs.” I completely agreed. In fact, the gift of time is exactly what we all need.
Play on, my friends!