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Story & child

It was once said that if you notice a child seated quietly by himself / herself then it is obvious that that child is indeed sick. This is so because a normal child will be averagely playful: will spend most of the time in play and we are talking about early childhood. It should however be understood that the drive to play, in children, which is very strong serves a far more serious purpose than the obvious; recreation. This drive exists as a survival endowment to children such that, through play, the children are able to acquire skills, knowledge and values that are necessary for survival of the child within its culture.

The children do not play because they want to avoid the realities of life but through play they face the realities of life through their intellect, physical being and even the emotional being. This is the reason why a kindergarten student building with blocks might spend an hour or more focused intents on the play task but might wriggle or squirm when asked to sit down for only 10 minutes or less to practice writing alphabetical letters (Van Hoorn et al, 2003).

The purpose of this paper is to find the reason why the foregoing statement is the case thus providing an analysis of the statement in the light that play is a vehicle for learning in babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The fact that a toddler or school going child spends more time in play at the same time intently concentrating in the same but will detest any effort of diverting his concentration into another task other than play (e. g.

reading or writing) requires an explanation. Why is this so? Is the play more important than the reading or writing task? Why does the concentration span differ markedly in the two tasks; play and reading/writing? All these questions only help to demonstrate or to anchor the in-depth explanation for this rather interesting observation (Staples & Cochran, 2007). To start explaining, why this scenario is the case, we focus on the child as a wonderful and innocent young one.

This is the assumption we make coupled by another one which proposes that if the world was ideal, then the source of happiness for children would not differ even slightly with from that of adults. But the world is not ideal and therefore the sources of happiness for these two individuals, a child and an adult, are not the same. Thus if a child, as he grows, is constantly protected from the realities of life which this same child will eventually face when he grows does not only deny the child his happiness but also ill prepares this child for these life realities.

This is the reason why children will always resist the adult’s well- meaning intentions for protective and objective embraces and directions respectively or resist the adult’s efforts to make them dwell on playgrounds that are rather idyllic and boring than those that are active and lively. They instead, in pursuit of their own learning and happiness, prefer to venture into varied play activities however and whenever they can and on their own without interference or intervention from the adult fraternity.

They so venture into these play activities so as to experience the real life in the world around them thereby incorporating and orienting this world into their play. The child, and not the adult, therefore knows what is best for him and when he ventures he is learning a lot about various realities of life in the world around him a learning experience that would otherwise be stifled and suffocated in the forceful directive activities from adults (Gray, 2008). It is common knowledge that children learn through play.

Children like activity and will detest boring and idyllic scenarios and this is related to the fact that not only the physical development but also the intellectual and socio-emotional development of the children solely depend on activity. Since children like play and will spend more time at play than in any other activity, and since play offers the best opportunity for learning, kindergarten programs have no options other than afford unlimited play opportunities for children.

The learning component of play can be explained by the fact that through the activities involved in play such as touching, testing, exploring, manipulation, etc children get to learn about the world around them: the realties of life as a way of orienting themselves with them and be in a better position to face them in future. Play is evident at different stages and complexity. The first stage involves the simple manipulation and handling of the play materials such as scribbling using a pen or crayon.

As time goes by the child will start using objects such as building blocks to make an “airplane” or a “boat”. The latter stage is the major activity that preoccupies kindergarten children who, according to Piaget, are in the preoperational stage of development. A complex game involves rules which are flexible and which change frequently making the players also to shift with the rules with little effort. This therefore means that at the age of the kindergarten children, they are not ready for rigid ruled games or activities such as writing alphabetical orders which may be perceived as rigid rules game.

This explains why the children will engage in alphabetical letter writing only for a short time before losing concentration, interest and getting bored (Christie, 1991). Piaget further asserts that children, out of their environment, are able to construct meaning and sense of order. These children are in constant organization and reorganization of information, knowledge and experiences. The reorganization of previous schemas constitutes learning.

Play enables contact of the child with the environment enabling construction of meaning and thus a sense of order. Further, play activities, especially those with flexible rules, aid in organization and reorganization of schemas thus creating learning. Therefore, play is the best vehicle possible for learning in children and this learning according, to Piaget, is not the same as the one in simple recall of facts. Piaget shares the concept of active role of play in the learning process with other proponents such as Dewey and Montessori among others.

They are all of the view that palsy is important in learning and should be applied to all kindergarten curriculum areas: science, literacy, social studies and math. The importance of play in the cognitive, socio emotional and physical aspects of child’s development cannot and must not be ignored (Van Hoorn et al, 2006). It has been noticed that children will even play at times of Holocaust. It is not because they are not aware of the holocaust or they want to escape from the reality at the time but because they want to deal with the holocaust through the play.

This according to George Eisen, in his book Children and Play in the Holocaust draws a parallel between children’s play and the Nazi Holocaust. How is it possible that children would still play under such environment pregnant with horror? This is the question that Eisen dwells on mostly in his book. He explains that the children playing does not necessarily imply that they are oblivious of the horror nor is the play a representation of denial of the horrors around them but play comes out as a bid to understand, confront and handle the horrors effectively.

This therefore proves the fact that learning creates a learning environment which enables children to learn skills which they can then use for survival purposes as they face the realities in life (Eisen, 1990). Therefore, in conclusion, play, whether sweet or otherwise (in situation describes by Eisen) crafts a fiction context in which they deal with the realities of life a scenario which better prepares them for tomorrow. Play can be peaceful or violent but whatever the case it is an enhancement of the learning process.

Many people tend to think that there is a correlation between violent play and violent adults i. e. a violent play beget violent adults but they get surprised when they realize that the opposite is true and the fact that the play was use as a module to give learned lessons to the children about violence. Actually, if anything, adult violence finds way into children’s play and this shows how the children are getting ready to learn and deal with violence.

Consequently, the concept of reform, via strict control and replacement of children’s play with other activities such as study is not only wrong but also misplaced. Playing initiates learning which the children will use to prepare themselves for life’s realities and thus we need to reform the adult world and the children, through play, will follow suit. References Van Hoorn et al, (2003): Play at the centre of the curriculum, Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall, p. 44. ) Eisen G, (1990): Children and Play in the Holocaust: Games among the Shadows, University of Massachusetts Press, pp55-7

Van Hoorn et al, (2006): Play at the centre of the curriculum, Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall, pp98-103) Staples R & Cochran M, (2007): Early Childhood Education: An International Encyclopedia, Praeger Publishers, pp998 Gray P, (2008): The Value of Play: Children Use Play to Confront, not Avoid, Life’s Challenges and Even Life’s Horrors, Freedom to Learn December 16, 2008 Retrieved on 23rd January 2009 from http://blogs. psychologytoday. com/blog/freedom-learn/200812/the-value-play-iii-children-use-play-confront-not-avoid-life-s-challenges-

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