Why therapists use games and toys in therapy
One thing that crops up for therapists, time and time again, is others questioning how they can be doing therapy when they “just play” all day.
Actually, games and toys are one of the best mediums to teach and remediate children’s difficulties because… well, children are supposed to play. Whether in-person or digitally, therapists use games and toys as tools for the child to achieve their goals.
For speech and language therapists, what better way to get a child practicing their “s” sound 100 times than on 100 turns at Jenga? What better way for the occupational therapist to practice balance and gross motor skills than through ‘The Floor is Lava.’ It’s not to say therapists don’t sometimes play games ‘for the sake of it’ but generally there is an important reason behind their selection – building rapport, evaluating generalisation, and practicing social skills, for instance.
Not only that but a recent study (Schmitt, 2020) found that active engagement in therapy led to better language outcomes than simply increasing the number of sessions. As always, our focus is always on quality and children achieving their goals.
Not all games and toys are useful though. Certainly, some have more benefits than others. Playing a tablet app can be considered both an educational tool as well as a harmful time-waster, depending on how it's used. Once again, it comes down to true engagement and the way in which the tool is being purposed.
Our therapists are always more than happy to discuss ways to improve engagement at home and at school.