Importance of Play in Education
The article has been paraphrased from the article “Acknowledging Learning Through Play in Primary Grades” pg 146-147
Importance of Play in Education
There are three significant importance of play; cognitive, social and physical.
Cognitive skills are the ability to understand a given concept or idea through experience. Better understanding of facts requires an interactive engagement in the learning process; (Brooks & Brooks, 1993).This can be done by changing the classroom environment to be more accommodating. Teachers can make the class room environment playful thereby gives children opportunity to be able to make choices on their own and enjoy learning. The freedom of choices makes children have confidence. While playing children make certain decisions and therefore experience the effect their actions have. Through this, they learn from their actions. Children that are usually directed on what to do always miss out on the chance of bearing consequences for their own actions thus will not learn to control their actions. On the other hand, children that are left to make their own choices have an upper hand to make wise choices. Theorist like Dewey, Vygotsky and Piaget believed in interactive learning to nature cognitive skills (Mooney, 2000).During plays, children build their understanding of concepts as they share ideas, select activities and find solutions to problems.
Play is an important avenue of having child’s literacy skills put into practice hence develops language literacy. Learning begins in the use of language and listening. As children play, they have better understanding of language and its usefulness in interactions with people in their environment. During a play, children not only develop oral skills in a given language but also learn how to read and write it since at the end of primary age they are expected to be fluent in speaking and writing. Children’s involvement in plays gives them an opportunity to hear and practice new vocabularies therefore have better understanding of how language works. Primary teachers should place literacy materials such as signs to read, flannel boards, word spelling magnetic letters and tape players that record children’s own stories. These kinds of plays also help to develop children’s language skills.
Piaget believed in children interacting with materials around their environment in order to understand concepts (Mooney, 2000).Interactive learning builds knowledge about the world around children such as certain materials can assist in understanding certain concepts in mathematics and science. Puzzles aid in understanding spatial concepts, pattern blocks helps making geometric shapes while magnetic exploration allows children to understand magnetic forces and discover the difference between metals and non metals. These materials therefore enable children have better understanding of various mathematical and scientific concepts that can be applied through their lives (Elkind, 2007).
Teachers are put into task to aid children nature social skills that will enable them interact with people efficiently and effectively. Play ensures that children interact naturally. Children practice several social skills such as cooperating, negotiating, listening and sharing (Spodek & Saracho, 1998). While playing, children take on roles that characterize their life experiences such as one playing the role of daddy and the other the baby. Moreover, the social aspect of play enables children practice certain skills that are needed in the school curricula. Sociodramatic play provides an avenue to learn the values of currencies while playing store. Through cardboard spaceship, children learn new vocabularies while as children prepare menus while playing pretend restaurants they develop writing and reading skills. Furthermore as children play they may create or re-create rules of games so as to suit different scenarios. During conversations of creating game rules enables them to negotiate, discuss and analyze various scenarios of game.
Lastly, playing has been associated to healthy development of the body. Studies show that various plays enhance different parts of the body. A young infant’s play movement largely contributes to his locomotive movements. Children at the age of five months adopt the ability to reach and grasp by playing particular objects and surfaces that lie around them(Bourgeois,2005).By eleven months, infants prefer certain objects of play and would be able to manipulate them in more complex ways(Schneider,2009).Through manipulation of objects during the play, children gain object control skills such as ease of grasp of object(Bourgeois,2005).As children get older they acquire more locomotive skills as they play such as standing,sitting,walking and crawling.
The major reason of encouraging play in earlier years of life is to promote physical health as low physical activity level may lead to health problems at old age. Inactive children are more likely to be obese at childhood and as adults. Adult obesity causes heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and other complex medical conditions (Hassan, 2005). Children that rarely engage in play have greater health risk in factors such as high cholesterol levels, triglycerides and blood pressure. These factors may begin showing from as the age of four years. These studies should lend an urgency of increasing the levels of play in schools and at home. Therefore parents and teachers should enrich plays that strengthen physical development.
Bourgeois, K. S., Akhawar, A. W., Neal, S. A., & Lockman, J. J. (2005). Infant manual of objects, surfaces, and their interrelations. Infancy, 8, 233–252.
Brooks, J.G., & Brooks, M.G. (1993).In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms.Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Elkind, D. (2007).The power of play: How spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier children. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
Hassan, M. K., Joshi, A. V., Madhavan S. S., & Amonkar, M. M. (2005). Obesity and health- related of life: A cross-sectional analysis of the US population. International Journal of Obesity, 27, 1227–1232.
Mooney, C. G. (2000). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Reedleaf Press.
Schneider, H., & Lounsbery, M. (2008). Setting the stage for lifetime physical activity in early childhood. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 79(6), 19-23.
Spodek, B., & Saracho, O.N. (1998). The challenge of educational play. In D.Bergen (ED.), Readings from play as a medium for learning and development (pp.11-28). Olney, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.