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[Pre-Order] Play with a Purpose: Effective Play-Based Therapy & Early Child Development – Cari Ebert

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Play with a Purpose: Effective Play-Based Therapy & Early Child Development – Cari Ebert

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Play with a Purpose: Effective Play-Based Therapy & Early Child Development – Cari Ebert

Professionals working in early childhood (birth to age 5) likely recognize the therapeutic potential of play, but creating effective, play-based therapy sessions for this age range can be a challenge. It requires creativity, flexibility, and an understanding of how play impacts development. Too often, therapy becomes rigid and unengaging, because young children learn best through relevant and meaningful play – not through direct instruction, drill work, or flash cards. Play-based therapy is so much more than just playing with toys, though — it requires play with a purpose, creatively embedding strategies into naturally occurring experiences in order to maximize outcomes. In this highly engaging recording, learn to apply a fresh approach to working with young children and their caregivers by promoting cognitive, language, physical, and social-emotional development through child-directed, adult-guided play experiences.


  1. Summarize the benefits of play across the five developmental domains (cognitive, communication, social-emotional, physical, and adaptive)
  2. Describe the limitations of popular educational toys and apps and their effect on the development of young children with developing brains and bodies
  3. Outline a plan to incorporate functional play-based assessment into standardized testing
  4. Identify naturally occurring routines and activities to promote development in the home environment
  5. Recognize the best strategies and toys for play-based interventions
  6. Design individualized play-based therapy sessions that focus on the child’s strengths, needs and interests

OVERVIEW OF PLAY

  • Definitions of play
  • Common societal myths about learning and play
  • Developmental benefits of play
  • Play as the foundation for learning and development
  • Connection between neuroscience and play

TYPES OF PLAY

  • Active play vs. passive entertainment
  • Child-directed play vs. adult-directed play
  • Object play vs Social play

TOYS — TOOLS FOR LEARNING

  • How toys can enhance development
  • What kinds of toys are tools for learning
  • Why low-tech toys are best for young children with special needs
  • Natural activities to promote development in the home

PLAY-BASED ASSESSMENT

  • Standardized testing vs. functional play-based assessment
    • Why play based assessment works
  • Assessing the whole child across the 5 domains
  • Application
    • Play-based assessment guide
    • Case studies and discussion

PLAY-BASED THERAPY

  • Recognizing the value of child-directed play
  • Keeping therapy natural and functional
  • How to play with a purpose
  • Relationship-based learning
  • Partnering with parents and caregivers

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Cari Ebert

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