My Expertise in Play, IMM Intern Stephanie Sander

Hi there! My name is Stephanie. I’m an intern at IBP pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Health at the University of Nevada. I’ll be writing a blog series about the importance of play throughout the lifespan. This is an aspect of life that is vital for development and a great way to relieve stress. I have done research on important Public Health issues that occur in each specific life stage. The great thing about play is that it is important throughout our entire life. From infants to the elderly, play in the physical, mental, and social capacity has a role in psychosocial development and coping for everyone. My goal is to show each of you how important playing is. I will be expanding on the recent article I posted on Inspire Me Mommy talking about directed and undirected play. If you did not read it I will link it below. 


Now. Let’s be real. This is for Inspire Me Mommy. And I’m not a mom. I haven’t even begun thinking about becoming a mom. But, I do have a fantastic mom and attend Inspire Me Mommy classes. I’m surrounded by mothers and role models and want to share my findings with you all so your children can grow and develop to be strong individuals, and to do this is the most fun way possible! The type of research I specialize in is participant observation. I get involved; I do not stand on the sidelines and take notes. I’m here to participate in every aspect of IBP, including being a part of the support system.


Let me tell you a little about myself. I grew up with play surrounding every aspect of my life. This is why I say I’m an expert in play. My entire childhood was encompassed with it. My mom, an early childhood teacher, would make every facet of my life into a game. This would include challenging my sisters and I during  ‘regular’ playtime with arts and crafts, to chores around the house. One game I used to fall for is “whoever cleans up first is the winner!” My older sister and I would race to pick up every single toy while my mom laughed under her breath. I thought this was an actual game until I was 10. My mom is so sneaky.


My elementary school was for the Performing Arts. My homework was to learn lines for plays and practice my dance choreography. I must admit, while this school was incomparable in bringing me out of my shell and making me the person I am today, I never quite grasped other school related activities, such as multiplying fractions, because my teachers emphasized learning Shakespeare and being active instead. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.


I became a competitive soccer player at age 10 until I was 17. Soccer became my entire life.  I had three to four practices a week, plus a game on the weekends by age 12. By my junior year of high school, I had an out of town tournament every other weekend as well. Soccer was my lifeblood and one of the best examples of directed play possible for a child.  


Even something as mundane as math homework (I got my degree in Anthropology, math and I are not friends) becomes a form a play, a competitive game. I time myself for speed or reward myself when I get a question right on the first try. I pride myself on being a great student and teaching myself new ways to study.


Finally, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a minor in Community Health Science. I was taught to partake in participant observation, as stated before. This is a qualitative research method in which I will jump into the research instead of taking notes in the background. Even my degree requires me to get involved and join in and play. I am excited to share my knowledge on the importance of play throughout the lifespan. Not only for your child, but you as well.


Link to Article about Directed and Undirected play