How Educational Psychologists Use The WeDo Game
Dr Kathy Bekavac, Educational and Developmental Psychologist for Scope Psychology Services Australia, approached us to discuss how she and her fellow psychologists utilise our game in their therapy sessions. Dr Kathy is a huge advocate for the WeDo Game, frequently using it to help establish trust and a connection with clients, as well as offering it to parents via Scope’s sister-site Educational Toys Online.
We asked Dr Kathy why she thinks the WeDo Game is great and what her go-to activities are:
Why do you like the WeDo Game?
“2020 and 2021 were years that families had to respond to change and turmoil, hopefully using their creativity, problem-solving skills and their sense of humour. The WeDo Game puts the creative thought process of the whole family into practice. Creative thinking and problem solving are key competencies that allow us to remain flexible and provide us with the capacity to respond to opportunities and challenges that are part of our complex and changing world.
Engaging in play is healthy for all ages and is something that is often overlooked by adults. Play and creativity add much needed joy to the family unit, relieving stress and strengthening the connection between family members – and the WeDo Game offers exactly this! The educational psychologists at Scope Psychology Services Australia need to build trust and establish a connection with children quickly, and this game serves as a fantastic bridge to do so.
I make use of it all the time, in both family workshops and therapy with individual clients. Doing one of the creative activities can help me to engage a child’s mind and establish the foundation for a connection. Sharing a bit of fun and laughter together before a session builds a sense of trust and rapport between a psychologist and a child.
It’s not just great for the kids too, it’s also great for parents. The amount of creativity and play that the WeDo Game inspires is stress relieving, and the fun triggers the release of endorphins to make you feel great and promote your own sense of wellbeing. Creativity helps develop a social bond between parent and child: verbal communication, body language, boundaries, cooperation and teamwork. All things so easily achieved through play!”
What are your favourite activities to do?
My Vision Board
“In this activity, each family member creates a collage of words and images that describes their vision for the future, then shares it with the group, describing how they will get there. I like to adjust the time frame to suit the audience and often provide stickers and craft materials so that the presentations are easy to create for everyone. It’s such a wonderful activity and gives so much hope for the future.”
“This activity involved getting the kids outside, which is always great! Everyone grabs a camera and completes a treasure hunt for different photos. Thank goodness for mobile phones, which makes this activity easy to do wherever you are. It’s especially essential for the family to come together after they’ve collected all of their photos to share their experiences and get the most social benefit from the activity.”
“This is often a go-to activity because it’s so quick to do – great for when you’ve not got too much time! Each family member comes up with a dream job and the rest of the family forms an interview panel to ask them questions. It’s a fun and optimistic way to think about the future, and the mock interviews make for great practice for adults and children. Fun, fun, fun!”
You can buy the WeDo Game in Family Edition, Toddler Edition, Baby Edition or Couples Edition on our online store. All available now!
Why We’re Not A Screen-Free Family…
Many people ask us if we’re a screen free family. The answer is always a definitive no! We are though, conscious of our screen use, and prefer to work towards healthy screen habits – using technology in balanced and positive ways.
We understand, life is busy. As a society we’re never out of the office, there’s always someone to wish Happy Birthday to on Facebook, and there are cute dogs to look at on Insta. However, being conscious about screen use, and forming good habits, are key. Why? Because they directly shape our children’s screen habits. They are watching closely and will almost certainly mirror how you use your screen.
Healthy screen use is about what you use your screens for, when you choose to use them, and how much time you spend using them. It’s also about blending a healthy mix of work, social, leisure and digital activities into your life.
Our screen use choices can have positive influences on our children’s attitudes to screens. They will develop healthy screen use habits when they see us and their other key role models using screens in healthy, balanced ways.
We can have this kind of influence by allocating regular, screen-free time for our personal and family activities. This sends our children powerful messages:
- There are many ways to entertain yourself, relax and have fun – not all of them involve screens.
- Family time is one of the most important ways to spend time.
- People and relationships are more important than images and videos on screens.
To grow and thrive, our children need engaging and responsive interactions with their parents. Screens often get in the way of these kinds of exchanges – for example, if parents interrupt conversations with children to check text messages. We should put our devices aside and really focus on what’s most important.
Similarly, setting aside phone-free time each day to be ‘in the moment’ is rewarding. Finally, charging your devices overnight in a family area – teaching your child to do the same – shows them that our digital devices don’t have to be a part of our lives 24 hours a day
All quick and easily adoptable tips to promote healthy screen use with numerous social, emotional and developmental benefits!
Five Lifelong Benefits Of Play And Family Games.
First things first, play is universal across all societies! And there’s a good reason for this. Play and family games have a range of benefits for toddlers and pre-schoolers – but also for adults too!
Play is central to a child’s learning and development – so providing opportunities for different kinds of play away from screens is important. As we all know, play can come in different forms: creative, imaginative, structured and unstructured, but encouraging your child to experiment with toys and games has also been proven to:
- build their confidence and help them to deal with different emotions.
- help them develop social skills, language and communication, helping them to work out and learn to negotiate and deal with group dynamics.
- teach them how to care for others and their surroundings and environment.
- develop their physical, dexterity and fine motor skills, co-ordination and balance.
- develop cognitive ability by prompting them to think, reason, problem-solve, remember and pay attention.
As parents, we might sometimes ask our kids to entertain themselves while we work on other tasks. While learning to play independently is of course important too, children love playing with others, especially their parents. They crave time with mum and dad, and this gives us the opportunity to get to know our children better, teaching new skills in authentic, fun, learning experiences. When parents make a point of playing with their kids on their level, everyone benefits. Playing family games together builds trust, forges powerful bonds and creates meaningful shared experiences that can last a lifetime. And really, what can be more rewarding than that?
Social Media Addiction – How To Break The Habit.
Make no mistake, social media can be highly addictive. We tend to think that its “kids today” who are addicted to screens. But this is as equally true for adults as well as younger generations. Therefore, our relationship with our social media platforms should be viewed, reflected upon and nurtured just like any other relationship we have or any other activity that shapes our physical, emotional or psychological well being.
In 2021, social media addiction is a thing. Yep. Its a thing. Perhaps the most worrying thing about it though, is that most people are in denial, or have succumbed to and accepted the idea that its ok for their lives to be dictated to by people in Silicon Valley who design the algorithms that make up our news feeds and have us scrolling aimlessly and endlessly. Most research states that on average, people are on social media for between 2 and 3 hours per day. That’s. A. Lot. 30 minutes per day is considered optimal for mental health.
However, there are several things that can be done to help quickly and effectively reduce time spent on social media. See our tips below:
- Disable notifications from social media: Most people check into social media mindlessly, so put a small barrier in the way by turning off notifications. If you don’t see a social media icon or alert every time you pick up your phone, you’re less likely to spend time there.
- Set limits and stick to them. Most phones and tablets allow you to see the time you’ve spent on certain apps. Set a limit for your time spent on social media and stick to it, or use an app that blocks social media after you’ve hit your limit. For children, the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that social media use not interfere with activities like family meals, exercise, or “unplugged downtime.”
- Delete Social Media Accounts You Don’t Use. Digitally declutter your life!
- Go Cold Turkey. Depending on how bad things have gotten, it might be time to go cold turkey. If you’re spending more time on social media than you are interacting with people in real life, give yourself a reality check by having a holiday from social media. Decide how long it’s going to be, inform your friends online how long you’ll be away and how they can reach you if they need you in person, and delete your apps. If you normally spend two hours on social media per day, you will have an extra fourteen hours per week which are totally free to do whatever you want with – let the world be your your wifi-free oyster.
The Importance Of Play In Succeeding As An Adult.
In childhood, learning through play helps us to embrace uncertainty, instils a stronger sense of curiosity, provides new ways to approach challenges and test and try things over again – and importantly, to innovate. Research shows that learning through play is central to a child’s well-being and their ability to thrive by helping them develop core skills (creative, social, physical, emotional and cognitive) that are critical drivers of success in adulthood.
However, sadly, while children are often flexible in learning new skills, this function declines as we grow older.
Creativity materialises from challenging and, in turn, being able to adjust our mindsets. Therefore, adults should try as far as possible to remain engaged in learning, play and creativity to thrive in other areas of life. Specifically, curiosity, confidence and emotional regulation are critical for adults to succeed in careers and be flexible to new challenges.
Play also helps the plasticity of the brain, limits toxic stress, and allows us to pursue goals and ignore distractions. Research shows that adults who perform above average on creativity tests also perform significantly better on executive function and can better imagine ways to cope with the challenges and difficulties they may face.
Perhaps if we can try to learn more from children’s creativity and play, we can become more inspired, adaptable and our workplaces and lives become more productive and rewarding.
Five Quick Tips For Screen-Free Fun.
- Set boundaries for how much time is spent in front of screens – this goes for everyone – not just the kids!
- Identify screen-free areas in your home (eg. the dinner table, bedrooms) and make sure everyone adheres to it – that means you too Mum and Dad!
- Remember the old stranger danger safety messaging from when we were kids? The same principals apply online… Talk with your kids about not sharing their personal information with or engaging with people they don’t know when online.
- Talk with your kids about “bullying” – what it means, how it manifests in the playground and what to do about it. Take this conversation a step further to then discuss cyberbullying and highlight that, regardless of whether it takes place on the playground or from behind a screen. It’s the same thing, has the same detrimental impacts, and in all cases actions should be taken to stop it.
- Find fun activities to do together as a family to reconnect and spend some quality time together – Playing The WeDo Game is one option of course! Or grab a ball and head outdoors!