The Importance of Play in Early Childhood: How it helps a child’s mental development Joy Marie Neri
Empire State College
Exploring the Professions: Children and Child Care
Play in a child’s life is extremely important. Starting with mental, social, health and just how they will develop as they grow. In researching several theories, we will look at how play and the lack there of has changed over the years. How children react to play and the environment they are placed in. Children tell us a lot without us always seeing the signs. Play does contribute to the way children deal with experiences in their life. Keywords: play, develop, environment, research and theory
The Importance of Play in Early Childhood: How it helps a child’s mental development Playing is such an enormous component in a child’s life, and knowing that children want moments to participate in self-driven play is of such importance to teachers, instructor, coaches, tutors, caregivers and parents. Play time with parents and children is very important for both parties. It gives parents time to just relax and enjoy that moment with their kids and it gives children that sense of security and enjoyment with their parents. We see now a days that life is so busy and we have so many electronics for parents and children that we forget the simplicity of having a catch, hitting the ball, push on the swing and riding bikes. However, “free play” is such a significant aspect to our children’s daily growth and their need to be able to have and use their imagination. Imagination is such an essential tool for an adolescents, it helps them acquire about and a way to look at people and events that will not affect them in their real life. For example, it allows them to look at “what will I be when I grow up”, when reading a story they can visualize a “shipwreck” or “the big bad wolf”. “The imagination is absolutely vital for contemplating reality, not just those things we take to be mere fantasy”, said (Paul Harris, a development psychologist and a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who studies imagination). Children that partake in pretend play, are getting the social skill, ethical growth and development. They are building their self-esteem and getting a chance to look at this big world and imagining “I can be anything”. (Albert Einstein) said it best, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand”. If we give children a realistic period of time to create and animate in a universe of imagination, they will use and develop more social skills, ability to adapt and shoot for the stars as they grown to be teenagers and eventually adults. (Thomas John, Natural Childhood, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994). Play not only stimulates common juvenile growth, but furthermore supports them with occurrences presented in the situation. Children who cannot express themselves verbally will be encumbered in times of play. They will lack the knowhow of playing with others, understanding the rules or simply communicate sensitive or emotional issues. (Haworth, 1964) Play contributes to overcoming fear and anxiety. Reinforced by a theory studied by Charlotte Buhler (1930) and Freud (1937). Psychoanalytic Theory, proposes that playing for children not only signifies wish-fulfilling efforts but also efforts to survive an aggravating circumstance which may overwhelm a child. Playing with a child creates a strong bond from the beginning with families. It creates relationships, enjoyment and a sense of “being heard”. Now a days children are not interacting with their families because there is so much to do in the real world. Parents do look for a cheap babysitter when placing their children in a room and just letting them watch TV or play video games for hours. This does not allow for...
References: The Psychology of the Child by: Jean Piaget, Barbel Inhelder, Helen Weaver (translator), Barbel Inhelder, published 1972 by: Basic Books, 192 pages
http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx Article 31.1
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