Essay on Play and Early Learning

Added on - 13 Apr 2020

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Running head- PLAY AND EARLY LEARNINGPlay in the early years of foundation stageName of the StudentName of the UniversityAuthor Note
1PLAY AND EARLY LEARNINGChildren living all over the world engages in playful activities and it is consideredimperative to their growing years. Play is indeed vital for the intellectual, physical and affectivedevelopment of all children. Play is also considered as an essential educational activity and isoften acknowledged in formal schooling. It creates provisions that help teachers enhance theirknowledge about a child. In addition, a child who engages in play is often able to learn about thesurrounding world and perceive the different aspects of the environment(Broadhead and Burt2012). A child who does not engage in playful activities remains at an increased likelihood offalling ill physically, and mentally. Several social factors such as poverty and war make itdifficult for children to indulge in play. This creates a crippling effect on their personality. Thisessay aims to determine the different ways by which playing influences holistic development of achild. It will also evaluate the role of adults and the external environment in bringing about thisdevelopment.Play can therefore be defined as a process that is freely chosen, intrinsically motivatedand personally directed. The content and intent of play is generally determined by children. Theyfollow their instincts, interests and ideas while determining the nature and duration of their play(Gray 2014). In addition, the Joint Natural Committee on Training for Playwork defines play asan innate drive that is of utmost importance for child development. It is unpredictable andspontaneous and helps children to establish relationship with the surrounding world. On the otherhand, the National Occupational Standards for Playwork defines it as a personally directed andfreely chosen behavior that motivates a child to explore the world and assists in establishingrelationship with it. This enhances the child’s learning and helps in the overall development(Bergen 2014). Thus, it can be stated that there exists a close association between play and theprimary emotions of a child. The playwork theory is often associated with Haeckel’s theory of
2PLAY AND EARLY LEARNINGrecapitulation and illustrates the fact that all stages in the development of a child correspond tothe successive adult forms of evolutionary history. Sigmund Freud proposed a theory in 1920that stated that play allows a child to express negative emotions and also provides theopportunity to reconcile the inner anxieties. According to the theory proposed by FriedrichSchiller, play was defined as an aimless expenditure of exuberant energy and as a pleasurable,superfluous and non-productive activity. However, this theory stated that play did not provideany evolutionary development(Brooker, Blaise and Edwards 2014). The superfluous theory wasfurther supported by Spencer, who stated that higher animal species spent more time on playwhen compared to lower animal species. The relaxation or recreational theory was proposed byMoritz and described play as a activity that aimed to restore energy that was expended in work.However, the classical theory on the role of play in sensory learning is still practiced in privateschools. According to the Montessori theory, children learn and imagine best in their play time.It is sensory, and utilizes a hands-on approach that helps a child to set own pace to learn andgrow(Goodliff et al. 2017).On the other hand, the modern theories determined the influence of play on developmentof a child. Play was viewed as a rehearsal by Bruner in 1972. This theory stated that one of theessential functions of play was rehearsing actions in response to real-life scenarios in a risk-freeand safe environment. Another theory proposed by John Dewey focused on the subconsciousinfluence of play in mental and social development(Brock et al. 2013). The theory separatedplay from work and illustrated the former’s role in helping the growth of a child in a workingworld. Thus, the theory proposed that childhood play activity prepares them to develop healthyworking adults. Other theory proposed by Jean Piaget mentioned that child development stagesof assimilation, or manipulation of the external world, helps a child to meet own needs and
3PLAY AND EARLY LEARNINGreadjust the views in order to adapt to the environment(Piaget 2013). In addition, the fact thatplay brings about holistic growth of a child was further supported by another theory. LevVygotsky postulated that children use play as a means of social growth. While playing, theyinteract with others by utilizing role-play and language. The theory also stated that while thepresence of playmates or peers is imperative for the growth and wellbeing of children, adultsupervision and interaction is also essential for mastering social skills(Vygotsky 2016).The effect of dramatic play on the social and emotional development of a child has beenextensively studied. It helps children to create a sense of the surrounding world by enabling themto act out situations before they actually occur. Thus, play helps children to cope with the eventsthat occur around them. Pretentious play or dramatic play contributes to the emotionaldevelopment of life by helping them to view life from a different perspective(Doyle andMilchem 2012). Brian Sutton-Smith, the play theorist believed that children are born with highneuronal capacity, which if not utilized properly will degenerate or die. Play helps the children todevelop certain neurological foundations that promote enhancement of language comprehension,creativity and problem solving skills, in addition to learning(Drake 2013). Thus, play helps themto calibrate their body and muscles in order to develop abstract thinking capacity. Therefore, itcan be stated that children who are not stimulated for playing tend to develop fewer opportunitiesto explore the surroundings. Eventually, they show failure in establishing a link between theneural connections and the learning pathways.Playing time also helps in stimulating the production of the brain-derived neurotrophicfactor, a protein in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. These structures in turn help inorganization, monitoring, and plan development for future(Russ and American PsychologicalAssociation 2014). Furthermore, the immediate benefits of play on children health have been
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