One of my favorite aspects of running West University Moms is being introduced to all of the wonderful local businesses in Houston, especially those who aim to help the children in our community. Working with children is something dear to my heart and I have the utmost respect and excitement for those who choose to follow it as their life’s mission.
Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed. with Learn Play Grow LLC is one of those people whose passion is an inspiration. Her educational consulting practice uses play to help children and families learn and grow their relationships, language, learning, positive behavior, social skills, and more. Rebecca is passionate about the power of play and the importance of inclusion, and she has dedicated her education and career to helping children and families reach their greatest potential. Rebecca earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Special Education, and completed a residency in Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture program and a Fellowship in the Lonestar LEND (Leadership Education in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She brings her education, experience, and expertise to Learn Play Grow LLC. to help children and families of all abilities learn, play, and grow to success.
Play is the birthplace of curiosity, creativity, and communication. Through play, children learn about themselves, others, and the world. We can support children’s learning and invest in our relationships with them by engaging in play. Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed. is passionate about the power of play. She has used play such as Star Wars and slingshots to teach literacy, Hungry Hippos and toy kitchens to teach social skills, and role playing and parent coaching to diffuse explosive behavior.
Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed.’s educational consulting practice, Learn Play Grow LLC, utilizes play for learning and language enrichment, positive behavior and social skills, and family and teacher education. She collaborates with parents, teachers, and therapists in home, in school, and in the community. When one of her in-home students showed no interest in learning sight words, Rebecca built upon his interests to access learning through play. He liked Star Wars and slingshots, so with some creativity and motor skills, they dressed up as Star Wars characters and launched figurines at sight words. Rebecca and her student also played sight word hide and seek, created sight word dance routines, and constructed a Lego “rainbow color changer” to transform sight words into all the colors of the rainbow. Play catapulted her student into engagement, and he successfully learned all his kindergarten sight words.
Sharing and taking turns can be challenging for little learners, but a teacher with a taste for social skills can help! Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed. supports inclusion for children of all abilities in early childhood schools and camps. One of her students loved the kitchen center but could not take the heat. Rather than getting out, Rebecca brought a structured game into the unstructured play space. Hungry Hippos defined roles, rules, and routines and provided structure for learning turn-taking, compromise, and problem-solving. With these important social skills on the menu, Rebecca and her students were able to fade the structure of the game and create new games of their own. The children took deep breaths while taking turns as chefs, counted down and blasted off for sharing cooking materials, and built a recipe book full of vocabulary and kind words including “Would you like to try some?” and “That’s not my taste.”
Explosive behavior, especially out in the community, can be challenging for families to navigate. Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed. supports children and families of all abilities as equal members of the community. One family reached out to Rebecca for help participating in a community Easter egg hunt. At the last Easter egg hunt, their child with autism had an explosive tantrum and was aggressive toward other children. Rebecca helped the family understand that behavior often communicates unmet needs. When we respond to the behavior, we perpetuate it. When we respond to the need, we resolve it. This insight helped the family reframe the behavior with an understanding that the child had been so overwhelmed by the unpredictable and sometimes inequitable hiding and seeking of candy that he acted out his anxiety by melting down and taking candy from other children. Rebecca, the parents, siblings, and grandmother worked together to build a toolbox of strategies for success. They created a social story explaining how Easter egg hunts work, they role played, and they invited neighborhood children over for candy hide and seek. With these supports, the child and the family experienced meaningful success at the Easter egg hunt.
Play is the path for children’s learning and for nurturing our relationships with them. Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed. of Learn Play Grow LLC lights the way by utilizing play to creatively stimulate and support learning and language, positive behavior and social skills, and parent and teacher education in home, in school, and in the community. She can be reached at www.learnplaygrowconsulting.com