Back-to-Basics- Play in Early Childhood
Kyle plays with blocks and built a castle. Tony and Victoria are playing with the fire station and posing as firefighters. Kenzo and Carl play with a ball. Children play with playmates in the theater. Playgroups on the court choose players to play ball. As an early childhood professional, you are likely to use wordplay a hundred times a day.
Research shows that children learn best in an environment that allows them to explore, discover and play. Play is an important part of a developmentally adapted child care program. It is also closely linked to the development of cognitive, socio-emotional and physical behavior. But what does it mean to play and why is it so important for young children?
What’s the game?
While it is easy to compile a list of reading activities, it is much more difficult to define reproduction. Scales, et al. (1991) calls “the absorbing activity in which healthy young children participate with enthusiasm and abandonment” (p.15). Csikszentmihalyi (1981) described play as “a subset of life … an arrangement in which behavior can be practiced without fear of its consequences” (p.14). Garvey (1977) gave a useful description of the game for teachers when defining the game as an activity that is: 1) positively appreciated by the player; 2) self-motivated; 3) freely chosen; 4) engage; And 5) “certain systematic relationships with what is not playing” (p.5). These characteristics are important for teachers to remember because they impose adult values, needs or motives in children’s activities can change the nature of the game.
According to the dictionary of Webster’s English language office, the word game has 34 different meanings. As for toddlers and games, the following definitions are helpful Webster:
Light, strong movement or change (for example, to pretend you are a butterfly)
Acting or imitating part of a person or character (for example, playing at home)
To use a device (for example, to play blocks)
Exercise or activity for fun or recreation (for example, to play the tag)
Fun or enjoyable, as opposed to serious (for example, playing peek-a-boo or singing a silly song)
The action of a game (for example, the game of duck-duck)