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Childhood & Western societies

Childhood is closely related to play in most Western societies. Even the United Nations believe that the opportunity to play for young children is as important as learning for them (Sandberg & Samuelsson, 2003, p. 1). In the context of educating preschool children, the importance of incorporating play in teaching method is widely accepted by academicians and preschool teachers.

Most believe that play should be treated as an act of learning or an object of learning for preschool children. Since young children acquire knowledge of their world through play and other social interactions with significant others, schools should plan and put into practice curricula that are play-oriented. Teacher as Facilitator Teaching is a relatively demanding activity. This calls for teachers to display great commitment and proper mastery of skills inherent in the profession.

In any given day teachers are required to live as per the requirements of the curriculum that defines the scope of their work in regards to the needs of the child. As matter of fact, teachers must fully engage themselves in the process of curriculum decision making by considering how best to create and enhance a learning atmosphere that will suit the diverse needs of the growing child.

To this end a teacher must endeavor to grow and develop his or her skills, to live beyond the expected standards, to be more of a co-learner rather than a teacher, to become more of a listener, provocateur and negotiator rather than a mere communicator, to observe, document and research, to act as a creator and supporter of social relationships in the class, and to become an extender of understandings rather than a mere facilitator of play. Research has proved that play is one of the few ways on how child learns naturally. There are multiple areas that work when a child plays.

Studies also show that a strict, serious and work-centric method of teaching children does not encourage love of learning. Moreover, such approaches will only train the child to memorize rather than to critically analyze (MacNautghton& Zini, 1998). Although there are studies that prove the relationship between play and cognitive learning, many childhood teachers and practitioners fail to recognize this. Research also shows that play is a vital element in the growth and development of a child, thus it should also be incorporated on preschool curriculum (Russ, 2004).

According to studies, there are seven types of play: physical play, that enhances motor skills; verbal play, that enhances writing, reading and language skills; logical play, that enhances numbers, sequencing, patterns and reasoning; musical play, that enhances melodies and rhythm; spatial play, that enhances colors, visual and creativity; interpersonal play, that encourages teamwork, positive interaction and communication; and intrapersonal, that encourages emotions, inner reflection and independence (Russ, 2004). Curriculum Design

A play-based learning experience encourages the children to recollect and reconstruct memorable events, roles and experiences that they come across in their daily lives. This in turn, enables the children to take part in laying down their own goals, with the teacher acting as a negotiator. The curriculum should also seek to empower the young children to develop the ability to recall and remember key elements that form their immediate environment. This will involve changing the roles of teachers from mere implementers of the curriculum to symbols of encouragement and stimulation.

Further, it will encourage the young children to widen their thoughts and understanding about specific topics that draws their interests, and hence, strengthening the character of ‘wondering. ’ The play-based curriculum will not only make the process of learning to be enjoyable to both the teacher and the learners, but it will make the children’s learning activities to pass through the relationship with the cultural and scholastic context which, as such must be a formative environment that is an “ideal space for development”(MacNautghton & Williams, 1998).

In so doing, it will enable the teachers to become part and parcel of the young children, to think with them, to talk with them and not, to them, to provoke curiosity, and to act as a window through which they can get a complete view of their world. At the long run the young children will be in a position to solve puzzles, questions, dilemmas, and issues they face in their daily lives. A curriculum that is play based should not be a day of no direction and interaction and just simple play alone.

Teachers should also plan to include activities that will enhance the children’s listening skills and encourages group interaction. Naturally, the child grows tall and big, however this growth must be stimulated and monitored. The play-based curriculum will enable the stimulation of the growth and development of the children through the various play activities that the children will engage in, such as sand playing, swimming, short race battles, dancing competitions, etc.

The role playing games such as pretending to teachers or students, parents or children, drivers, police officers, etc. will help to nurture the development of language skills, physical development, formation of morals, development of worthwhile emotions, development of social skills, and even enhancement of cognitive abilities. In a nutshell, all the curriculum’s play activities will enhance the growth and development of the six aspects of a child’s growth. References: Ceppi, G. , & Zini, M. (Eds. ), (1998).

Children, spaces, relations: metaproject for an environment for young children. Reggio Emilia. Italy: Reggio Children. MacNautghton, G. , & Williams, G. (1998). Techniques for teaching Young Children: Choices in Theory and Practice. Addison Wesley Longman, Melbourne. Russ, S. W. (2004). Play in Child Development and Psychotherapy: Toward Empirically Supported Practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Sandberg, A. & Samuelsson, I. P. (2003). Preschool Teachers’ Play Experiences Then and Now, Elementary and Childhood Education, 1, 1-8.

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