THE PROGRAMME & TOOL
Learning Through Play (LTP) is a flagship programme of the SickKids Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health, Canada. It offers a range of in-person and virtual mental health services for children and youth (infancy to 18) and their families, from prevention and early intervention through assessment, counselling and therapy and intensive services
The Learning Through Play programme utilises low-literacy, multicultural materials to provide information about the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional aspects of child development. The programme provides training and support to frontline community workers, who in turn provide this vital information to parents.
The Learning Through Play (LTP) resources are pictorial “calendars” that depict the successive stages of child development from birth to six years, along with brief descriptions of simple play activities that show parents what they can do to promote healthy child development. They focus on five key areas of development denoted by the acronym SPRUC (as developed by Judith L. Evans and Ellen Ilfeld); Sense of Self, Physical, Relationships, Understanding the World, and Communication.
The most innovative aspects of the LTP programme are:
- its emphasis on parent-child play as a means to promote learning and attachment;
- its use of a hands-on approach that emphasises learning through demonstration and practice;
- its use of a simple, low-literacy, pictorial format that presents information about successive stages of child development;
- its sensitivity with respect to illustrations, language, concepts, and values to ensure widespread acceptability;
- its inclusion of all family members; and
- its availability in many languages.