Theoretical Approach to Role and Purpose of Play







January 2008

Role and Purpose of Play

What is Play
Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and young people. Through play, children can communicate thoughts, needs, satisfactions, problems and feelings. An adult can learn a lot about a child??™s feelings of joy, hope, anger and fear by watching, listening to and talking with a child at play.
Play brings together the ideas, feelings, relationships and physical life of the child. It helps children to use what they know and to understand things about the world and people they meet. Play is central to learning and it is part of a whole network for learning.
Play is crucial for the development of good self-esteem and for becoming a rounded personality and it co- ordinates a child??™s learning and makes it whole.

Flexibility and Thinking
This is a concept which is based on a child??™s thinking, intellectual development and ideas as well as using play as a way in which a child??™s learning becomes whole.
The use of flexibility and thinking as one of the tools for role and purpose of play was developed by Jean Piaget. He said that children are actively involved in their own learning, children learn by accommodation, assimilation and they use the same skill presented in different ways to support this. Jean Piaget also laid emphasis on children passing through four distinct stages. These stages are: sensory motor; pre-operational; concrete operational and formal operational.

Neurological development
This is the development of the brain through play. Neurological development is influenced by play and its foundations enable problem solving, language and creativity learning through play. Also, Neurological development creates an awareness of how young children learn through movement, rhythm, sounds and their senses.
The theory of Neurological development was developed by Jerome Bruner. He stated that children are active in their own learning and they can develop different ways of thinking at different times in their lives. He also stressed that the relationship between language and thought enables children to think symbolically and children learning can be facilitated by an adult provision of a scaffolding experience.

Playing and Identity
Play helps children to learn about themselves and the world around them and it is an important and natural way to develop early communication, identity and social skills. It is enjoyable for babies and adults and helps them to bond. Toddlers will initiate play themselves, often returning to their favorites game over and over. The simplest toys can give the greatest pleasure, and they help develop imagination, creativity and confidence. Play is great for language development as it helps children learn the names of people and objects in context. It also helps them to identify object or playing tools.
The theory of playing and identity was developed by Lev Vygotsky. He stated that children are active in their learning and they also learn through social interaction. He also stated that children use language to develop thought process and the zone of proximal development describes what a child can achieve with help.

*In conclusion, a dispositional perspective on flexibility thinking, neurological development and playing and identity offers much both to theory and practice*

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