How Do Children Learn Through Play Essay

Childhood Play Behavior and Cognitive Development Essay

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Childhood play behavior is an important part of every child’s life. Starting in infancy, children begin to explore their world through play. This behavior can serve as an indicator of the child’s cognitive and social development. The research on play and development is a key to helping caregivers understand the importance of childhood play. This paper will focus on the psychological aspects of childhood play behavior and its relation to cognitive development. According to the cognitive development theory, the purpose of play is to develop intelligence. While children play, it is theorized that they are able to learn to solve problems (Wyver & Spence, 1999). One of the most influential contributors to understanding…show more content…

Typically, when a child is five months old they begin to engage in a low level of object play. Children in this stage will focus on how their actions affect objects. For example, my niece is one year old and enjoys picking up blocks and hitting them together. When she does this, she is learning that she is able to control an object (block) and her action (hitting them together) produces a result (noise). As children near the age of two, they begin to gain interest in the properties of toys and begin incorporating objects in their fantasy world (Hughes, 2006). Symbolic play is added to the child’s repertoire of play soon after they reach the age of two. As the child develops through these types of play, they are able to connect and arrange these play behaviors in intricate ways.
Between the ages of two and seven, children are in the pre-operational stage of cognitive development. This stage of development is categorized by imagination and symbolic language. During the beginning of this stage, toddlers spend most of their playtime using their imagination and playing pretend. This helps them to decipher the difference between reality and fantasy. Between the ages of five and seven, these children transition from parallel play, to associative and cooperative types of play behavior. These new play behaviors increase their social skills as they interact with peers, siblings, and parents. During this period, children also

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Child Learning Through Play Essay

Children have a natural inclination to play, alongside a natural instinct to learn and to be curious and inventive, which are characteristics of the human race in general. This quote taken from Janet Moyles is a good starting point for this essay. It is well known that children love to play. If a child were to be left to his/her own devices they would happily play and create new worlds anywhere they were left. It has been well documented and researched that children learn excellently through play. However they are not always given the opportunity to do so, instead being told to, ‘finish your work and then you can go play’. Obviously this is not always the case, but the fact that it is a common practice shows that we do not all fully appreciate the importance of play to children’s learning. This essay will attempt to show how children learn through play, making reference to current theory and practice. I will also give examples from my own first-hand experience of how children learn and develop as people through play.

Julie Fisher (1996) suggests that young children learn by ‘being active’, ‘organising their own learning experiences’, ‘using language’ and ‘interacting with others’. I would agree with this statement up to a point. However, she does not mention if the activities should be structured. While I agree that children will learn from being active through a process of trial and improvement, I believe that with older children it would be a lot more beneficial to give the child a structure build upon. For example, before I began this PCGE course, I used to train my local under eleven Gaelic Football team. Say for instance they had never played before and they turned up to training at 7:00 but the training was not until 7:30. All the training equipment was already on the pitch and they all went down to investigate. I have no doubt that by 7:30 when I arrived that the children would be after developing some type of game from the sports equipment that was already there. Now I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, but if I had been there from the beginning the children would have got a much more structured and themed training session. It all comes down to what your aim for a child is. My goal was to train the children to be the best they could be at that particular sport. The same could be said for children growing up. Usually the teacher has some sort of goal that they want the children to achieve before the end of the day. In this case how does the teacher direct the child towards the learning objective without limiting the natural learning potential of the child? Vygotsky argues that a useful way to help a student who is having difficulties is to direct their attention to the key features of the task and prompt them in ways that will facilitate their understanding. Bruner has used the metaphor of scaffolding to refer to Vygotsky’s view of this kind of teacher support (Smith and Cowie, 1991).

For very young children this...

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