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Playmaker Survey Finds High Levels of Implementation, Satisfaction… and Gratitude

October 24, 2022

Playmaker training provides early education professionals with the tools they need to make care for children more trauma-informed and child-responsive. A recent survey of over 200 trained Playmakers found high levels satisfaction with the training, and positive results with implementation.  

“I take what I learned from the training about working with children who have suffered from trauma to help me make better decisions to assist them,” said Playmaker and Kindergarten Teacher Dave Buskirk. “I truly feel that what I learned from Playmakers has made me a better teacher and human being.”

Nearly 97 percent of survey respondents reported that their Playmaker training has had a positive impact on the social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of children in their care, and 82 percent said it has significantly helped them build healing, life-changing relationships with kids. Considering the proven importance of those relationships, that’s big news!

“Decades of research show that positive relationships with skilled, loving adults help kids heal, and over thirty years of practice have taught us that the most effective way to create these relationships is through play,” said Ellen Lempereur Greaves, Senior Director of Program & Learning for the Playmaker Project.

The more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) a child faces, the more likely they are to experience negative outcomes later in life. The CDC defines ACEs as “potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood,” and counts outcomes like “poor physical and mental health, substance use, and risky behaviors” among the possible impacts. Relationships, formed through play, are an antidote. 

Playmaker and Elementary School Principal Tom Welch said training helped him view his job in a different light. “Our students have been through a traumatic experience with covid the past two years,” he said, adding:

“My training ensures that I now look at our social emotional strategies on an equal plane with our academic benchmarks.”

It will take years for physicians and researchers to fully understand the impact of the pandemic has on young children, but ACEs have been shown to have increased as a result.

Like Tom, Playmakers across education, enrichment, and health settings reported a shift in their mindset following their Playmaker training, with many noting that the experienced refueled and rejuvenated their practice professionally and in their personal life.

“Turning stressful moments with a more playful approach can really flip a switch,” said Playmaker Amanda Baker, a Child Life Specialist and mother of four, about using practices at home and work. 

The majority of those surveyed said they are implementing Playmaker approaches with kids and also with colleagues. “Playmaker [training] has transformed my teaching practice completely. I teach other teachers, I use it daily,” said Playmaker and Teacher Becky Cummins. 

Self-care, another important hallmark of Playmaker training, also received high marks. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that self-care is essential to mitigating the negative effects of stress and burnout, but professionals in caretaking roles often report lower rates of self-care than other professions.

In contrast, a high percentage of Playmakers surveyed, 82 percent, said that they practice self-care on a weekly or daily basis, and 98 percent said training has had a positive impact on their capacity to combat burnout. 

Playmaker and Childcare Coordinator Judy Harvey brought Playmaker training to her organization early this summer. For her team, this aspect of the training was significant and, she said, the timing could not have been better.

“I knew one of the teachers was burning out, and hearing her speak about how she now remembers why we do this work meant the world to me, and I will always be grateful.”

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