Play as a Framework for Learning
I am going to discuss how play is a framework for learning in early childhood education in New Zealand and the role of a teacher in implementing a play based curriculum. I will also be discussing 2 theoretical perspectives in relation to play. Play is an important factor in our children’s lives. Through play children learn many different things in life. ‘Play is seen as a positive impact in children’s learning, and play-based curriculums are advocated as one of the best approaches to children’s learning across the early years’ (Nixon & Gould, 2002).
Children develop at different paces and a very high proportion of what they learn takes place in the first five to seven years of life. What happens in the home is extremely important to development in early childhood. Dockett and Fleer (2002) suggest that the ideas of what play is range from “the view that play is a process of engaging in aimless activities, to a view that play includes make-believe activities, and then to a view that play cannot be defined by activities, rather it is an attitude of mind” (p. 14).
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In our study guide, one of the questions asked that really caught my eye was, Do all children with different backgrounds learn through play? It says the answer is apparently no, according to Chan (2006). She claims that, for example, Chinese believe “learning is not synonymous with playing and learning does not need to be active, fun and interesting … and Asian education systems are generally highly structured, dogmatic, teacher-centred” (p. 36). I believe that children in different cultures don’t always have play.
Maybe because of their religion or their parents don’t believe in play. I know for a fact that play is a must in a child’s life. In Bruce and Meggit’s (1999, p. 240) reading it says that “Play brings together the ideas, feelings, relationships and physical life of the child. It helps children to use what they know and understand about the world and the people they meet. When they play children can: rearrange their lives; rehearse the future; reflect on the past; and get their thoughts, feelings, relationships and physical bodies under control.
The act of playing gives them a sense of mastery and competence, which helps them to face the world and cope with it. This is crucial for the development of good self-esteem and for becoming a rounded personality. Play co-ordinates a child’s learning and makes it whole”. I strongly believe in play, I know that play can be a physical thing and can be active as well. Children gain confidence in themselves and self-control. Eliason and Jenkins (1999) stated that play provides children with “occasions to organise, plan, discover problems, reason, try out solutions and skills, create and explore.
Play enables children to formulate ideas and then to test them out” (p. 27). Secondly, the role of a teacher I think is an important role as an observer, “For early childhood educators and parents alike, ongoing observation of young children plays an important part in helping to identify children’s individual needs, strengths and dispositions. It is a first step to understanding and supporting their development and learning” (Hamer, 1999, p. 9). Observing children is the most crucial thing you can do for a child.
I think it is a crucial time to observe and look at what a child is doing. When you observe them, they tend to be doing activities they love and cherish. This is part of exploring. In the study guide it says that when you observe children, you will notice that they spend much of their time in play activities. This play is central to their development in their early years. It is the cornerstone of their learning and provides the way through which they explore and make sense of the world they live and grow in.
When children are observed, it is possible to see how each child learns and what they are interested in learning. It is also possible to assess children’s needs, and see how individual children relate to other people. Observations can also show how children use their bodies and how they play with particular equipment and resources (Penrose, 2000). Teachers can support children’s play (as an individual or in groups) within a number of areas in the early childhood setting such as: physical, explorative, sensory, creative and risk-taking.
All of these play experiences can take place in both indoor and outdoor environments. (Study guide). The curriculum is founded on the following aspirations for children: “to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society” (MoE, 1996, p. 9). Piaget believed that children learn through the process of actively engaging with their world (Faragher & MacNaughton (1996).
Parents in particular are pleased when they see their children’s work their child is doing and are impressed with the amount of work their child takes home. As I was reading the study guide I came across “Open Ended Questions”. Whydo we use open ended questions? As a teacher I think it is to get a better understanding of the child, to get new information. In order to know what the child is doing you need to ask questions. They should be easy to understand and also not too long. It may be necessary to give some children one or two minutes to gather their thoughts and ideas sufficiently to answer (MacNaughton & Williams, 2004). Utilising open-ended questions may lead children away from the activity at hand to expand their understanding or explore other concepts. This is emergent curriculum and requires teachers to engage in the next teaching strategy. (Study guide). Thirdly, theories of play are an important part of a child’s learning, I will be discussing Piaget and Parten’s theories of play.
Mildred Parten was one of the early researchers to study children within the context of play. Mildred was one of the early researchers to study children within the context of play. As I come to read about partens theories I get a better understanding of why she focused on childrens play. Below is a summary of the stages that she identified. As you read these stages, consider examples of each that you have witnessed in your teaching experience. * Onlooker behaviour: The child plays passively by watching or conversing with other children engaged in play activities * Solitary independent: The child plays alone Parallel: Playing independently, even though in the middle of a group of children, while remaining engrossed in their own activity. Children playing parallel to each other sometimes use each other’s toys, but always maintain their independence * Associative: Children share materials and talk to each other, but do not share or coordinate play objectives or interests * Cooperative: Children organise themselves into roles with specific goals in mind (for example, to assign the roles of doctor, nurse, and patient and play hospital) (Nixon & Gould, 2002)
In piaget’s theories, it was abit different from Parten. Piaget had talked about four stages of cognitive development were : sensori-motor period, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. The first two stages, sensori-motor period, and the pre-operational period, relate specifically to the early childhood years. Piaget’s stages of development directly relate to his concepts for the stages of play. He identified three distinct stages of play: Functional or practice play is associated with the sensori-motor period.
Isenberg and Jalongo (2006) state that “Functional play (birth to age 2) is characterised by simple, pleasurable, repeated movements with objects, people, and language to learn new skills or to gain mastery of a physical or mental skill” (p. 56). Children explore objects in a variety of ways using their different senses and physical abilities, for example, an infant may play by chewing on a plastic hammer in order to develop their sensori-motor skills. Symbolic play is associated with the pre-operational period.
Somewhere around two years of age, children are able to begin to play in their heads, meaning they are able to use language and memory to extend their repertoire of play. This gives them the ability to use objects as symbols. For example, a child in this stage is able to pick up a block, and pretend it is a car, and drive it across the carpet. Children in this stage no longer rely totally on the physical object and begin to use their imagination and involve language in their play. The stage Games with Rules is associated with the concrete operational period.
Isenberg and Jalongo (2006) characterise games with rules as “[a]ctivities with predetermined rules that are goal-oriented and often competitive with one or more individuals” (p. 57). Hopscotch, tag, hide and seek, and organised sports such as cricket are examples of this type of game. Although Piaget associated the concrete operational stage with ages 7 to 11 years, play involving games with rules does have some relevance to early childhood. ( Study Guide) In Nixon and Gould 2002, p. 6 I says piagets beliefs about how people learn throughout life.
As i read I now know why play is important in childrens learning as well as their wellbeing. I have come to know that play is part of exploring and learning. REFERENCES Retrieved from: http://www. nztc. ecelearn. com/lms/classroom/ViewStudyGuide. aspx? StudyGuideSectionID=9321&VersionID=12&Status=Current Nixon, D. , & Gould, K. (2002). Emerging: Child development in the first three years (2nd ed. ). Katoomba, NSW: Social Science Press. Dockett, S. , & Fleer, M. (2002). Play and pedagogy in early childhood: Bending the rules. Southbank,