Floortime Tips

Playing with colorful blocks

Developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, founder of DIR/Floortime and author of many respected parenting books, Floortime offers parents a system of play to encourage language development, social skills, emotion regulation and leadership abilities. Seen as beneficial to all children, this approach to play is often incorporated into therapies for children with speech and language delays, and social and developmental concerns. Below are a few tips to get started and a link to helpful online workshops.

  • By design, the child is in charge- They are the director, you are the assistant. They decide the topic, place and pace of the play. Your job is to stay engaged and support the play.
  • Stay on topic- All of your questions and comments should be about the ongoing activity. Avoid introducing new ideas or taking the play in new directions. While this sounds easy, it really forces many parents to slow down. The goal is to comment or question in ways that continue the play or encourage the child to think deeper about current activity without moving them off it. You might ask open ended questions like, “what’s happening?” or, “how did you think of that?” You might describe their play or comment on the details.
  • Play at their pace- If the child is often running and dumping things, and you are often trying to slow them down, for these 20 minutes you are running and dumping. The message is – how you play is spot on for you.
  • There is no correction, no education- It is play. If the child decides the dog is a cow, it’s a cow while playing farm. Just go with it. Yes, you can go back later and read your farm books, but, for the time being, play.
  • The goal is 20 minutes per day- Put this on the calendar, set aside the time. This is a stretch that you turn of the tv and put down the phone. Floortime requires you be fully engaged and attentive.

There are many online resources that include and teach about Floortime. For online workshops designed for parents and professionals, visit http://www.thefloortimecenter.com/,   http://stanleygreenspan.com/.

Other helpful links include http://www.mindspring.com/~dgn/playther.htm and http://www.cms-kids.com/providers/early_steps/training/documents/floor_time.pdf.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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