ST. JOSEPH INSTITUTE REGULARLY HOSTS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES – FROM WEBINARS TO WORKSHOPS, FROM COLLEGE COURSES TO COACHING – ALL OVER THE WORLD.
SJI is dedicated to helping professionals in the field learn, apply, and hone new skills that will help families and students succeed. We offer a variety of training opportunities in partnership with universities, state agencies, and national organizations. In addition, we can be available to offer direct training to professionals in school districts, including on-going coaching and mentoring.
Here are a few examples of what we have been working on now:
“The Importance of Play”
iHear and Early Intervention Therapist, Barb Meyers, M.A., CED, presented a workshop to Early Education teachers in Indianapolis, IN. Focusing on play and its significance in developing language, it targeted children who are deaf and hard of hearing. “Play is the universal language of childhood. It is through play that children understand each other and make sense of the world around them,” she says. “Cognition, language, and play go hand in hand and have a powerful impact on our children’s ability to communicate.” She coaches other educators on the theory that play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imaginations, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Through play, children experience others’ points of view by working through conflicts about space, materials, or rules. “Play is important to healthy brain development and provides the opportunity for children to practice their communication skills,” she counsels.
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing often have difficulty with dramatic play. For example, a child who is 3 years old, according to the Cottage Acquisition Scales for Listening, Language and Speech (CASLLS), would use some internal problem solving, imaginatively role-play with peers, pretend to be a caregiver, and use some form of sequential play. “Because cognition and language go hand in hand, if a child is chronologically 3 years of age, but functioning at an expressive language age of 18-24 months, they don’t have the cognitive ability to use their imaginations to “pretend” to take on a “role” or the language to communicate that role to others. “So how can we help children get to the level needed to participate in imaginary play?” she asks young teachers. “Through 35 years of experience, I can advise that setting cognition goals right alongside language goals is key.”
“It typically takes children 20 minutes to get ‘into’ play. So at SJI, we block off a 40-45 minute period for them to do their center play which includes dramatic play, block play, the sensory table, the reading center, art and fine motor activities,” she advises. “So we set this block of time aside as an unbroken slot to really get into play and stay there. Typically developing children don’t need the intervention and encouragement to play. But our kids with hearing loss, or children with any language delay, really need the language skills to play and begin those essential skills.” She smiles, “When they do, and they really begin to chatter in play, I know I’ve done my job.”