This essay I will discuss the value of play in early childhood education. In looking at two theoretical viewpoints Piaget and Vygotsky I will show how both are helpful to understanding childhood development. I will also show Te Whaariki, the early childhood curriculum helps teachers in their role as educators.
When we see children play, we observe that they play physically with peers or adults or both at the same time. Children feel and express their emotions during play, through play and through their own ideas.
Often when children play they act on experiences from the past, perhaps a birthday, or a growling or other events that have occurred.
During pretend play children can ...view middle of the document...
7). For example, a child grasps a rattle in his hand, this can be compared to the older child who picks up and shakes a rattle to make noise.
Pretend play for very young children is often solitary. The child can act out actions and roles of an adult and some familiar events. For example to begin with, a child ‘feeds’ a doll using a toy bottle. On the other hand, the older child feeds the baby using a wooden block in pretence that the block acts as the baby bottle. This level provides a good foundation as the child gets his/her own experience.
The Preoperational stage occurs between the ages of two to seven years. The pre operational stage of development is about “Symbolic play, or pretend play. In pretend play, one thing is ‘treated as if it were something else’ (fein, 1987). Children develop more skilled motor movements and used their imagination in other ways as well as pretend play. They easily move about in their environment and are more confident in their actions. For example, there is running and jumping over obstacles on a playground as they pretend to be superhero’s.
The Concrete operational stage occurs between the ages of seven years to eleven years. Children develop interest in group games that have two or more sides and have rules. This is because their thinking is becoming more logical. At this age, they begin to realize games like Simon Says, and rule games will not work unless they are followed by everyone.
Te Whaariki is Exploration Strand, goal 2, suggests that “children experience an environment where they gain confidence in and control of their bodies” (Ministry of Education, [MoE],1996). Children choose their own activities and find meaning in them.
Vygotsky’s (1978), viewed children’s development as being influenced by older peers or adults. Children learn through observing or being helped to accomplish more in their pretend play or other activities. The gap between what they can do alone and what they will achieve with help was called the zone of proximal development by Vygotsky.
For example children pretending to be a policemen they put helmets and jackets on, get on their bikes as fast as they can, saying “shshshshsh” while pretending to look for some clue. They shout to their playmates, “Over here! Come over here! Found something.
One or more of the children might have more ideas to add to the play knowing behavior common to policemen (Find some clue, call for friend to join). Vygotsky’s, view was that cognitive skills develop from social interaction.
“Play leads development. Piaget emphasised the role of play in children’s development helping them to move from stage to stage. This contrasts with Vygotsky’s view that play can lead development. (Dockett & Fleer, 2002).
Observe children’s play. Through observation, adults assess children’s development and learn about the uniqueness of each child. Teacher may find that child spends much time using table toys or that another changes...