Friday, August 30, 2019

Importance of Play for Children Aged Between 4 and 6 Essay

The importance of play for children between 4 and 6 Written by Tessa Batchelor Submitted to New Zealand College of Early Childhood Education 2011 This Booklet outlines the importance of the play curriculum and learning for children aged between 4 and 6 years. Creative, imaginative and physical play will be focused on as well as the adults’ role in the promotion of play and the importance of a positive environment for play and learning. Included in this will be examples of play opportunities that link to Te Whariki and explain intended learning outcomes. The information within this booklet is intended to be a resource for early childhood professionals. How Creative Play Can Promote Learning: Creative play can promote learning in several ways. Three ways this booklet will focus on are cognitive development, fine motor skills and social development. Cognitive skills between the ages of four and six can be developed through creative play. It is stated in Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum and Tallack (2001), that creative play involves children developing individual ideas in ways that are not immediately apparent. It is valuable for children to engage in problem solving, resulting in the ability to take responsibility for their own learning (Smith, 1998). Concentration can be developed by children engaging in creative play due to extended periods of focus on their chosen task. By the age of six children have gained the ability to concentrate on a task without having their attention diverted from ten minutes to longer periods of time. During a creative play activity children will often portray one object as another, which cultivates the use of their imagination (Beaver, et al, 2001). Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum and Tallack (2001) details how creative play can promote learning in children by encouraging the use of fine motor skills. Fine motor skills include small finger movements, manipulative skills and hand eye co ordination (Santrock, 2007). Between the ages of four and six fine motor skills are becoming well coordinated (Beaver, et al, 2001). â€Å"Hand, arm, and fingers all move together under better command of the eye† (Santrock, 2007, p. 187). An example of how creative play can help develop fine motor skills would be when a child is using a pencil to create a picture; they are using a fine hold involving the thumb and fingers. This builds on their hand eye co ordination (Beaver, et al, 2001). Creative play also encourages social development. This involves associative play which includes other children joining in play together (Smith, 1998). Santrock (2007) explains that associative play gives children the opportunity to play together in a social setting and in a creative manner, with little to no organisation. †¦ Children make intermittent interactions and/or are involved in the same activity although their play remains personal† (Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum and Tallack, 2001, p. 368). Being involved in a creative activity promotes children sharing and taking turns. Participating in an activity within a social setting presents the opportunity to make and maintain friendships (Beaver, et al, 2001). Creative Play Opportunity for Four to Six Year Olds: One creative play opportunity for four to six year olds is a play dough activity involving varied materials. To set up this activity, distribute equal amounts of play dough evenly across a table. This activity needs to be situated in a resource area with access to various materials, including glass stones, bottle lids, ice block sticks, small wooden sticks, shells, material pieces, straws, feathers, and glitter. Incorporate a wide range of scissors and other implements such as cake containers, paper plates, paper muffin cases, play dough pizza cutters, rolling pins, differently shaped biscuit cutters and plastic cutting utensils. The children choose what materials they wish to include in the play opportunity creating a free play environment. Although creative play should begin with an individual expression of children’s’ ideas and have an open ended outcome, intended learning can still occur. Penrose (1998, p. 96) states â€Å"creativity is a process and the expression is in the doing-not the result†. The intended learning for this play opportunity is problem solving, creative and imaginative skills, co ordination of eyes, hand, arm and body and exploration. This play opportunity will promote the intended learning outcome by encouraging children to problem solve. This can occur because of the children’s’ chosen use of the varied materials and the new concepts that they create in relation to their choices. Because older children are already aware of the conventional uses for the materials imaginative ideas are necessary for the ability to portray one thing as another (Beaver, et al, 2001). Hand eye co ordination and fine motor skills are promoted by this play opportunity due to the manipulative manner in which play dough is used (E. Salcin-Watts, Class Handout, August 5, 2010). Children are involved in exploration through comparisons in textures between the play dough and various materials. Somerset, 2000). Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum and Tallack (2001) acknowledge that all children learn through play at their own level, therefore this play opportunity provides a wide range of materials. This is to ensure that the diverse needs in a group of children are met. The play dough supplied should be safe to chew but discouraged due to the belief in many cultures that playing with food is unacceptable. Distinguishing the difference between using food substances for play dough and cooking is valuable for cultural sensitivity (Penrose, 1998). As the play dough is evenly distributed across the table, each child has equal opportunity to be involved. This play opportunity links to Te Whariki through Strand 3 – Contribution, Goal 2. â€Å"Children experience an environment where they are affirmed as individuals. Children develop a perception of themselves as capable of acquiring new interests and abilities† (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 68). By engaging in this play opportunity young children are helping their own interests and curiosity progress, they are becoming aware of what their strengths and abilities are (MoE, 1996). Strand 5, Exploration Goal 1 can also be linked to this play opportunity. â€Å"Children experience an environment where their play is valued as meaningful learning and the importance of spontaneous play is recognized. Children develop the ability to make decisions, choose their own materials, and set their own problems. †(Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 84). In this play opportunity young children have access to appropriate materials and are stimulated to enhance their problem solving skills. (MoE, 1996). Imaginative Play Imaginative play can promote learning in varied ways. In this booklet children’s learning of self expression, language development and social development will be discussed. Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum and Tallack describe imagination as â€Å"the ability to form mental images, or concepts of objects not present, or that do not exist† (2001, p. 118). By participating in imaginative play children have the opportunity to begin expressing themselves and their interpretations of the world around them. Feelings of anxiety about unknown situations can be alleviated by acting out and exploring possible scenarios and outcomes in a familiar setting (Somerset, 2000). New characters or situations can be formed during imaginative play which encourages children to express themselves in unique ways (Beaver, et al, 2001). Role play accommodates for children’s sense of the world and creates a safe environment to explore their feelings (Beaver, et al, 2001). An important part of imaginary play is the dialogue that happens between children (Penrose, 1998). â€Å"Imaginative play provides children with a means of communication with others and themselves. † (Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum and Tallack, 2001, p. 414). Symbolism is indispensable in understanding language both orally and written. Older children display the ability to use symbolism when they no longer need the ‘real thing’ and begin making their own props or improvising to act out their imaginary play (Penrose, 1998). When children watch the world around them language is a big part of what they observe. Somerset recognises that â€Å"As a child grows, adult words to fit a situation are borrowed, practised and adopted. † (2000, p. 63). Therefore whilst engaging in imaginary play language is being developed through phrases, words and conversations children have heard in their community. Imaginary play can encourage group activities, especially when engaging in role play. In dramatic play children take on a role and every child has their part to play (Penrose, 1988). Children between the ages of 4 and 6 have the ability to participate in c-operative play (Beaver, et al, 2001). Social development is displayed in this age group through the use of co-operative play as children are playing for longer periods of time and are taking responsibility for their peers needs and actions (Penrose, 1998; Beaver, et al, 2001). By partaking in co-operative imaginary play children can acquire the capability to problem solve, build on leadership skills and communicate in various ways in regards to turn taking (Penrose, 1998). Play opportunity for Imaginary play for 4-6 year olds: An imaginary play opportunity for children aged between 4 and 6 is a family role play scenario. To set up this activity a family corner/area will need to be created. To create a family area you will need to ensure that the children have enough space to move around and play together, that children have various materials accessible to them and that equipment imitates things children would see in the home (Somerset, 2000). When providing equipment for the family area it is important to include common objects from other cultures also. For example having kete (Maori flax woven bags/baskets) for children to go shopping with. When providing dress up equipment ensure there are a wide range of different jobs available. Children by the age of 4 will often have picked up on stereotypical gender roles, it is important to encourage children to act out a diverse range of roles. By choosing dress up clothing that is easily put on it gives children the opportunity to involve themselves in the play regardless of ability (Beaver, et al, 2001). Intended learning for this play opportunity is social development, language development and communication through expressing one’s self. Social development at the ages of 4 to 6 can consist of taking turns and taking responsibility of their peer’s actions (Penrose, 1998). In this play opportunity children will be required by their peer’s to share roles and take turns with equipment. A family play situation promotes children’s ability to recognise the rules for behaviour they have experienced. This play opportunity creates a safe space to practice these rules. For example when a child is pretending to be a mother and disciplining their doll for breaking the rules set by the child (Smith, 1998). Smith explores this by stating â€Å"They develop more and more complex rules and roles for themselves in dramatic play. † (1998, pg. 18). Arthur, L. , Beecher, B. , Death, E. , Dockett, S. , Farmer, S. (as cited in Dockett, S. , Fleer, M. , 1999) show how this play opportunity relates to language development by stating â€Å"When children engage in dramatic play, especially shared pretend play, there are many opportunities for language interaction. † (2007, pg. 87). Children will use phrases heard in their home while acting out family situations, for example a repetitive phrase used by a mother could be â€Å"time to snuggle down into bed† which a child involved in this play opportunity could repeat to a doll or peer also involved (Penrose, 1998). Children involved in a family play opportunity can use this safe space to express themselves. This play opportunity is a safe way for children to explore their feelings as they can opt out of play at any time which consequently helps children to feel more comfortable and more able to explore their own emotions and express themselves (Beaver, et al, 2001). This family play opportunity entails all of the following â€Å"Imaginative play helps children to practise adult roles and social relationships, to share each other’s experiences and to integrate various aspects of their own experiences, to inhibit conflict and to develop cooperation, to enhance verbal communication and to express emotion. † (Smith, 1998, pg. 18). This play opportunity links to Te Whariki through the Communication strand and Contribution Strand. Te Whariki explains that an adults’ responsibility in practice is to provide a drama rich environment that extends children’s ifferent concepts, ideas and cultures. Strand 4 Communication, Goal 4; â€Å" Children experience an environment where they discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive. † (MoE, 1996, pg. 80) shows that children can develop a familiarity with drama in which they express their feelings and moods, and explore situations and cultures (MoE, 1996). This play opportunity displays children’s chance to be expressive in regards to emotions and act out situations. Strand 3 Contribution, Goal 3; â€Å" Children experience an environment where they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others. † (MoE, 1996, pg. 0) shows that children can develop â€Å"strategies and skills for initiating, maintain, and enjoying a relationship with other children – including taking turns, problem solving, negotiating, taking another’s point of view, supporting others, and understanding other people’s attitudes and feelings – in a variety of contexts;† (MoE, 1996, pg. 70). This play opportunity encompasses these strategies as children are participating in co-operative play in which they need to, for example, take turns with the dramatic play equipment (Beaver, et al, 2001). Physical Play Physical play can promote learning in several ways. The ways this booklet will focus on are gross motor skills and social and emotional development. By the age of 4 children are confident in climbing up and over large equipment. Between the ages of 4 and 6 children are developing agility and strength. These skills are important for such physical movements as jumping and climbing. Due to climbing children begin developing the ability to balance. Children between these ages are learning hand eye coordination due to new skills in catching, kicking and throwing balls (Beaver, et al, 2001). Arthur, L. , Beecher, B. , Death, E. , Dockett, S. , Farmer, S. ecognises that â€Å"One of the fascinating things about motor skills is that they develop with practice. † (2007, pg. 81). Therefore through repetition children can learn skills involving gross motor skills. Once children are four years of age the speed of their running can be changed more conveniently and their physical competency is displayed through the ability to accomplish tasks such as long jumps while running, skipping or hopping. By achieving in physical activities children have their skills consolidated and consequently develop confidence in their physical aptitude.

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