We had an exclusive interview with Kazandı about herself and her work, who said that games, which are the most natural learning tools, help children discover themselves, and who expressed his thoughts by saying “Play is the child’s language, toys are words”…
Can we get to know you and your work better?
After completing my academic career in England, I carried out studies and trainings in the field of education at home and abroad. I have always worked with the idea of ’Happy children, happy tomorrow’. In my studies, I have focused on special education in early childhood, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, foreign language teaching and reading acquisition in early childhood. I have worked in many public schools in England as a special education specialist and consultant. I also worked as a 0-2 year old baby development specialist at the Family Health Baby Clinic. Recently, my wife, Prof. Dr. I returned to Turkey because of Mert Kazandı’s work. I’m still working in England at the same time.
What was the reason for your interest in this field?
Most of our character and personal development takes place between the ages of 0-6. That’s why these years are so important. I went to England at the age of 19 and started my education. I’ve always had an interest in children. During my medical education, I had the opportunity to work with children. Starting from the very beginning of child development, I followed the development of children in special education, family baby clinics, oncology children’s department.
In which areas do you serve at the Children’s Academy?
Early childhood education is very important to me. In this sense, in the academy; In addition to individual education programs, developmental assessments and tests, Makaton sign language supported sensory integration and language development supported activities, Montessori education supported English curriculum, floortime sensory integration program, Autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy and down syndrome We provide services with programs. We also use the JASPER (joint attention, symbolic play, participation) Treatment and Approach and child-centered play therapies.
You often emphasize that play is extremely important for children. What can you tell us about this and about play therapy?
The child experiences the emotions and thoughts he experiences with the way he plays and produces solutions for the problems they experience. In this context, play therapy is an important tool that enables children to reveal their feelings and thoughts. Children who take on different roles during play therapy try to understand the world through their own senses. Play skills have a great contribution to the development of children. Games are necessary to increase the enthusiasm for the educational process, to develop motor skills, to learn new skills and to strengthen communication skills. With the game, children develop both their muscle and mental skills. By playing various games, children learn to distinguish objects, which object they can use where, and to establish relationships between different objects. Thanks to these games, they begin to meet many of their basic needs in daily life, such as eating, on their own.
The concept of Early Childhood Education is very new in our country. Why is this area so important?
As you say, early diagnosis in early childhood is not known very much. A new field is in Turkey, and I am one of the first. At the point of supporting the deficiencies in the development of I children rather than diagnosis in early childhood; I support them in identifying the areas they need, increasing their learning motivation, supporting their skills such as attention and focusing, and directing them correctly. Early diagnosis saves lives, yes, but if we provide support in line with the needs of early children, the diagnoses are made correctly. Early diagnosis at the age of 0-3 should be based on observation for me, long-term evaluations lead us to the real diagnosis. Early Childhood Education enables children to increase their potential more according to their developmental characteristics at the age of 0-6, and helps them to complete their deficiencies. At this point, we see that playgroups are very beneficial. Children who do not talk to these groups talk, children who do not make eye contact communicate and play becomes sustainable. Playgroups are a big step to support preschoolers for socializing within the group.
What kind of process do you follow for families and children who come to you and consult you?
First of all, I start from the point of what the child needs. First, I know a few sessions of children. Does he have a learning disability, I look at his physical development. If the child has learning difficulties, we offer one-on-one sessions. However, if the child does not have learning difficulties, only social communication disorder, peer communication disorder, concentration disorder, inability to continue and play games, I prefer to cut off special support and make small groups. This is how we usually work in the UK. In Turkey, there are a lot of one-on-one sessions, but it should always be remembered that the child grows and develops with the child. Every child has the healing power of play. Therefore, children must be socialized with their peers. When we do not give this to the child, the gap increases and he is constantly looking for an adult. That’s why I keep the one-to-one support low and include the child in the common play group. This method significantly contributes to the development of children’s independent study skills. We support joint play. In this way, the child develops a sense of empathy. It is very important for children to continue playing together with each other. We are looking at this first.
At what point should families reach you?
From the moment they are born, families should carefully observe their children. Behaviors in the nonverbal period are very important to us. For example; Eye contact is made between the mother and the baby while giving breast milk to the newborn baby. This is the most basic communication between mother and baby for us. Pediatricians usually play a major role in this process. They follow the 0-1 age range well. As the child grows, he exhibits movements that show that he understands, even if there is no expressive language. Sign language is the first thing we expect. For example, it shows a cat that cannot speak but passes by with sounds and sign. Sign language is the chief element of the first expression of communication. Physical development is also very important to us. Can the child use his hands, how is his eye development, is there any gliding in the eyes, does he respond to sound, does he look when we call? We pay close attention to these elements. We approach the child holistically. For example, is there seating? 9 months completed but too late to settle? Is there a chewing, sucking problem, all these are the first things we check. After a year, children clap and imitate, they learn through imitation. If the child is not imitating, grasping objects, not responding to their name, not looking back, not establishing meaningful relationships with their toys after a year, if they are not imitating sounds, if they are not following you and objects, there may be a problem. We can say that even a baby who starts crying when his mother leaves the room is in communication. Because the most important element of being human is the search for causality, it distinguishes us from other living things. Parents should be very careful about whether the child has this search for causality. In addition, delays in language development, reluctance to play, hitting behavior problems, having temper tantrums, sleep and feeding problems, toilet habits are the points to be considered.