Some people believe that children need to ???work??™ not play, and that playing serves no useful purpose in a learning and development environment.
Play is known to expand the ability to imagine and prepares children for later life when playing out real ??“ life activities. Play also allows children to extend their concepts, skills, attitudes and achievements. Play helps to improve speech language and communication because it offers
v Making choices and decisions
v Using one??™s own ideas and imagination
v Trying out new behaviours and practising old ones
v Practising skills and learning new ones
v Exercising, developing and co-ordinating body, mind and brain
v Adapting or transforming knowledge, attitudes and skills
v Follow an interest or line of enquiry
v Making up rules and changing them
v Making mistakes
v Setting one??™s own goals
v Trying to emulate someone else
v Using symbols
v Making sense of puzzling situations, events or equipment
v Becoming and being confident and enjoying challenges
v Having fun with friends or familiar adults
There are many different types of social play and they usually take on the form of Parten??™s six types:
Unoccupied (play): when the child is not playing just observing. A child could be standing in one spot or performing random movements.
Onlooker (behaviour) play: playing passively by watching or conversing with other children engaged in play activities.
Solitary (independent) play: playing by oneself.
Parallel play: playing even in the middle of a group, while remaining engrossed in one??™s own activity.
Cooperative play: when children organise themselves into roles with specific goals in mind. For example, roles of mummy, daddy and baby in a home setting.
Associative play: when children share materials and talk to each other, but do not coordinate play objectives or interests.??? (Parten, M.1932).
These different types of play can happen during various activities of play and the type of learning which occurs and how this occurs varies as well.
From my reading on play in the early years classrooms I have learned that play does not necessarily come in the form of toys or dress up. Many materials and resources can be used by the teacher to in cooperate learning through play into the early years classroom, for example, learning through Dramatic play, Sand play, Water play, Dough and Clay play, Table Top play, Small World play, Construction play and Creative play. In many of these play settings children draw upon their past experiences not only things that they have done but things that they have seen others do, parent, family members and teachers. They also play based on more indirect experiences for example, things that they read about, see on television or in computer games and they build or create games based on these experiences, create play scenarios and engage in activities.
Children learn mental, emotional, social and physical skills from these play experiences. Depending on the category of play in which the child is engaged they must use fine and gross motor skills and react to each other socially, think about what they are doing or going to do, use language to talk to each other or to themselves and they very often respond emotionally to the play activity.
Music games can be used to promote language development, motor skills and co-ordination, they are also learning to listen and gain confidence through performance activities. Creative movement expands a child??™s imagination. By transforming everyday objects in role play or dramatic play, such as egg cartons into caterpillars, the child gains independence in creating their own world of play. They learn the different attributes of certain materials and how they can be used effectively to recreate something familiar to the child. These types of activities can also reinforce mathematical skills such as sorting, classifying, sharing, counting and using one to one correspondence. Play is an excellent way not only to teach children academic skills which will benefit them in their day to day lives.
Outdoor play gives children the freedom and space required to explore and manipulate a different environment and is physically active.
Cooking, kitchen and household games not only help children learn life skills but also incorporate mathematical and scientific skills such as counting, measuring and following a certain process. Play activities such as these also encourage reasoning and logic skills, for example, we need to put food in the oven in order for it to cook.
Construction play creates a rich learning environment with children learning scientific, mathematical, art, social studies and language concepts; use fine motor skills, and fostering competence and self-esteem. Building with blocks for example, also teaches life skills, using concepts of spatial relations, stability and balance in order to fit things together, create certain structures and manipulating space in order to maximise it. The child??™s language is enhanced when a teacher or other children talk and ask questions about their method of building. Young children often create stories with their constructs, which encourage them to use topic specific vocabulary. Small world play allows children to recreate adult worlds in a controlled environment. They must concentrate and be attentive and use self-control. They must often improvise and use their imaginations to establish props and the setting.
Puzzles are a very good form of play and children learn fine motor control and also special awareness.
Sensory play is most likely to hold children??™s imagination for large periods of time. It is therefore suitable to promote the physical development of children and their fine motor skills.
Play has an effect on the frontal lobe, which is part of the brain that develops self-control. If there is no play, the brain is delayed maturation. Lastly, play can release energy, and this is important because a build- up of energy cannot be good. For instance, children with ADHD, play can assist with compulsiveness and help students concentrate in school. The energy is then released when they play so they do not have an overwhelming build-up of frustration and emotion. It is important to incorporate play in a child??™s life because without it, they can become developmental and emotional delayed. They would have no fun or joy in life.