Play and Early Learning: Importance of Play: Physical and Social Value

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Importance of Play

  • When children play together, they exchange ideas, discuss, argue, share their thoughts and feelings. All these are essential for their language development. It increases their power of reasoning, imagination and thinking.

  • They also learn good habits and values from each other. Play is the natural method of teaching children. It is a medium through which they get immediate consequences of their activities.

  • Play is a universal phenomenon. It benefits children in their all-round development and growth.

The most important values of play are:

Importance of Play

Importance of Play

Physical Value

Play has a vital role in the physical development of children. During play different parts of the body are activated. It also serves as an outlet for surplus energy. If the energy is not spent properly, children can become irritable and nervous.

Social Value

Play helps children develop friendly relationships and learn cooperation. Children get maximum social contact during play and thus learn social manners, behavior and ways to solve problems with friends.

Cognitive Value

Play provides children the opportunity to observe, concentrate and experiment, develop problem solving skills, vocabulary, expression, imagination and creativity.

Moral Value

Children learn what is right and what is wrong, how to respect elders and how to behave with peers from the same age group, friends and playmates.

Therapeutic Value

Play helps children give way to pent up emotions. Shy children learn to enjoy themselves with others, while aggressive ones can learn to wait patiently for their turn.

Recreational Value

Play activities bring enjoyment and relaxation. It keeps children emotionally satisfied and prevents boredom.

Educational Value

Children learn a lot during play. Through the use of toys, they learn about colors, sizes, shapes and textures.

Types of Play

Piaget (1945-1962) Explains the Levels of Play As

  • Practice Play: It matches with the sensorimotor stage (0-2 years). Physical senses play a major role during play. Play at the stage may consist of repeated body movements, putting object in the mouth, blowing spit bubbles.

  • Symbolic Play: It starts when the child is able to use the objects as a symbol of something (2-7 years). A representational system develops during the period. Children will engage in make believe games and fantasy role play.

  • Games with Rules: This level starts when a child is ready to accept the complexity and rules imposed during the game (7-11 years). Play becomes more structured. Rules are developed and play now takes on a social aspect.

Smilansky (1968) Divided Play Skills into Four Stages

  • Functional Play: It is the first stage in which children play with objects. Physical movements and motor skills are also included in this stage.

  • Constructive Play: At this stage, children use objects to construct something. Children begin to understand their surroundings and begin to initiate what they see.

  • Dramatic Play: Children start using imagination to make something from some objects.

  • Games with Rules: Children participate in competition type games. It allows children to understand the idea of rules, accept rules and play by the rules.

Parten (1929), stated that children’s play changed as they developed, going through six distinct stages that generally, but not always.

Corresponded to Children’S Ages

  • Unoccupied play: Children do not seem to be engaged or actively playing with others at all. This is play among newborns and infants and may be seen in children in new spaces, between the ages of 0 and 2 years and is important for later exploration and development.

  • Solitary play : Children often play alone, with toys different from those of others, and are uninterested or unaware of others. This stage of play is most commonly seen in young toddlers. However, it benefits children of all ages.

  • Onlooker play : Onlooker play is when a child observes others playing but does not join the play. This is common in children between the ages of two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half years but can take place at any age.

  • Parallel play : This also occurs between ages of two-and-a-half and three and-a-half years when children play side-by-side, not engaging with each other. They may play with similar toys and mimic one another.

  • Associative play : By the age of three or four years, children begin to play together, but do not focus on a common goal. Children will be more interested in playing with other children around rather than with individual toys.

  • Cooperative play : Cooperative play is where play finally becomes organized into groups and teamwork is seen. Children are now interested in who they play with and what the activity is.

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