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Why do we only use a play-therapy approach when our kids are ‘struggling’ at school?

play therapy


One of the delights of starting Different Is Good is that I frequently have the opportunity to chat with and relate to so many people. This has subsequently enriched my understanding of several fields, especially Occupational Therapy and Child Psychology. I meet lots of wonderful professionals at conferences who share their experiences and ideas, and this prompted me to research ‘play therapy’ and other methodologies that professionals use to help kids reach their full potential.

According to the Association for Play Therapy, this approach helps children to:

  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others
  • Learn to experience and express emotion
  • Cultivate empathy and respect for the thoughts and feelings of others
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family
  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities


We all agree that we want our kids to achieve these things in life, so why are we only employing these proven techniques when we think that our kids are ‘struggling’ or falling behind in certain criteria? Why not make proactive use of these amazing tools with all children?

This begs the question of whether we could incorporate more of these principals into mainstream schooling, so that potentially fewer children fall behind as we will give them the chance to explore different learning styles?

For example, here is how a play-therapy approach may help a child with dyslexia, which is one of the most common learning disorders:

A child with dyslexia may have difficulties with spelling, be a slow reader, and will lack comprehension. Instead of giving her/him long verbal instructions and extra spelling tests, a more holistic approach may be to leverage a multi-sensory learning style incorporating visual cues (rather than long verbal instructions). Such an approach would also typically allocate enough time to complete a task instead of pressuring the child with time limits as is commonly done in tests at school. With this approach, there is a greater chance that the child will keep up just fine.

My point is that our kids could gain so much if we allowed them to allocate their time an effort on learning and exploring for themselves at their own pace. We should be making these methods available to everyone - at schools as well as at home - as a way to provide them with an environment wherein our kids can thrive.

If children are falling behind at school, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have an issue. Let me offer a simple metaphor: When you buy a shirt and the shirt doesn’t fit, do you try to change yourself to fit the shirt – or do you just pick a different shirt more appropriate to your size? Well, with learning style its the same. If your kid doesn’t seem to be engaging and enjoying a certain school or learning style, don’t try to change the child to fit the school or method! Just look for the method that best suits your child.

Do you work with kids?
Are you a parent, teacher, therapist or specialist?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment bellow

Happy playing!

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