Understanding and supporting the development of a child is an important obligation for all carers. The holistic approach to a child’s development seeks to simultaneously address the physical, linguistic, intellectual, social and emotional aspects of a child’s life. The important fact of the holistic approach is that the child is given the ability to learn different things at his/her different stages of development.
This essay will explore why play is important for the holistic development of a child, how playing has an impact on the child’s maturation and how play changes in the first six years of a child’s life.
Because of its multi-faceted nature and the fact that it is an ...view middle of the document...
(Meckley (2002) in Wood & Attfield (2005) )
If we look at Physical development, the type of play that helps develop and refine this area is active exercise play which includes, jumping, climbing, dancing, and rough-and tumble with friends siblings or parents. Fine-motor practise skills are also developed through activities such as sewing, colouring and cutting. This type of play is related to a child developing whole body and hand-eye co-ordination, and is important in building strength and endurance (Pellegrini and Smith (1998) in Moyles (2005)).
According to Vygotsky (Vygotsky (1978) in Macleod-Brudenell (2008)), young children are comfortable to talk loudly at themselves. Vygotsky defined this as ‘inner speech’ (Vygotsky (1978) in Macleod-Brudenell (2008)), a combination created from thought and language. Heuristic play and Symbolic play help children make sense of the world in which they live, how they can develop learning and thinking skills, and how they can acquire language. Children have dialogues with themselves when they engage in Symbolic play. Since language is both a symbolic system and a cultural tool, play is an essential part of both language development and of a child understands of the external world. While children play, they are making sense of their world through a process of ‘inner speech’. If we listen to a child play, we can hear the way in which he/she converses with themselves in order to make sense of the external world. This is often done through mimicking adults. Children observe parental behaviour, listen to a carer’s speech and imitate them. Through symbolic play, children take on diverse roles and try using language ‘differently’, which both help regulate their own thought process, and personal development.
Play allows children to learn using their natural curiosity about the world around them. While a child is engaged in a fantasy play, he/she uses their imagination to generate ‘new’ ideas and images, learning to think in a different way to solve ‘real’ problems: ‘Through their fantasy play, they create new pretend situations. Fantasy acts as a way of unifying experiences, knowledge and understanding, helping the child to discover the links between the individual components’ (Moyles, 2005, p115). According to Moyles (2005) there is a difference between fantasy play and socio-dramatic play.
Fantasy play is an imaginative play where the child pretends to be another person, while in socio-dramatic play the child is obliged to follow the social rules governing the character he/she is portraying.
The socio-dramatic play allows the child to create opportunities to make friends, negotiate with others, and to develop their own communicational skills. (Moyles, 2005)
It can be argued that socio-dramatic play and fantasy play offer to the child a possibility to act out different roles and explore their feelings: ‘Through play, children can begin to learn to cope with life and with a range of complex social...