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Developmental play - foundations for inclusion..insights from the Philippines

The Developmental Play training course has launched this week in the Philippines and amidst the conversations with therapists and teachers attending the course is how children who are differently abled struggle in their local education systems. Particularly those "children in the middle" with mild challenges who are often seen as disruptive in class but do not really get the support they need to reach their full potential, but also those children with severe disabilities that do not have the chance to go to school. What expertise is available for teachers and school based therapists that helps them understand what these children really need? How can our early childhood services build solid foundations for social, emotional, cognitive and physical development that allows ALL children to prosper and learn?

We have had amazing feedback from our first batch of participants here in the Philippines as what the Developmental Play paradigm and training gives them is a clear and easily accessible framework for understanding the foundation skills of all learning and development. It helps participants to see how some children need to revisit or practice more early development stages so that they can move up to higher levels. It also gives a framework for understanding what children are telling you they need through their play, through the way they move and through their behaviour. Children are constantly communicating their needs and what Developmental Play training gives adult participants is a tried and tested model for truly listening to and working with children. As discussed in the training play is an instinct and children are naturally driven by that instinct. If we learn how to harness and support that instinct we can develop truly child centred inclusive practice as play is the language of all children.

As a training course that grew out of work at Deepti special school in rural India it is practical, shows more than tells and is easily accessible for clinical professionals, teachers and parents alike. Rooted in best practice is aims to be accessible and scaleable and that is clearly what is exciting the Filipinos here. We already have sign ups for the next runs and levels and plan to set up our first licensed training clinic and early childhood training centre here by the end of next year so that we can reach out to all special education and early childhood teachers who need more practical skills to work with the spectrum of needs of their children. Next April we will also be running the Ist International Developmental Play Conference here in Manila with a focus on play as an essential foundation for all children in health, education and welfare services. So watch out for some exciting developments in the Philippines.

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