PREVIOUS: ACoAs & PLAYING (Part 4)
ARTICLE: Scientific Benefits of Play
BOOK: “Cycles of Power” ˜ Pamela Levin (Developmental Stages)
QUOTE: “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Khalil Gibran
• Maria Montessori said “Children’s play is their work”, “and toys are their words” added modern play therapists. Children are concrete learners, & must experience their world thru all their senses in order to make sense of it. A child’s world is filled with the magic of exploration, discovery, make-believe, and play – all vehicles for development. Play is the most important activity in their lives – sometimes even more desirable to them than food & sleep.
• Actually, it’s one of the most powerful tools children have for trying out & mastering new ideas, skills & activities. Much of children’s early learning comes through self-discovery, an outcome of play. It gives the opportunity to figure out -on their own- confusing social, emotional & intellectual issues. By coming up with new ideas & solutions during play, they gain a positive attitude toward learning, & a sense of power from being in control of their small world, rarely available to them in real life.
Normal BRAIN Development
Although we are born with some genetic wiring, most of our synaptic connections form in early childhood. This process is shaped by the internal & external experiences of each child, & the formation of neural connections are guided by the emotional bonds created between parent & child. So it’s very important to provide a loving family, warm home, special attention (affection, playing…..), & appropriate education – to ensure healthy brain growth that will lead to a child’s optimum mental, emotional & social development. (Brain Development in Children – detailed by age & style)
0 – 1.5 yr: Almost all neuron (nerve cells) are present at birth but most are not yet formed into networks. Synapse connecting is rapid, with brain activity more like adults by 12 months. Greatest growth is seen in sensori-motor & visual cortex, & then the frontal lobes. Piaget’s “practice play” reflects the development of these brain areas.
1.5 – 3 yrs: During this age the synapses continue to expand and reach about 1,000 trillion – twice the density of the adult brain. (Pruning takes place later to reduce the number). The toddler brain is twice as active as the adult brain. The structures of the brain that are sensitive to language and social-emotional response develop. Motor development continues at a rapid pace.
3 – 6 yrs: This is the fastest growth period for the frontal lobe networks, and speed of processing, memory, and problem solving is increasing. The brain is at 90% of its adult weight by 6 years.
6-9 yrs: The synaptic connections in motor and sensory areas are firmly established and the process of elimination synapses (pruning) in these areas has begun. Because of the activity in higher brain “control” centers, children increase in levels of attention and ability to inhibit impulses.
LEARNING STYLES (via NLP)
Everyone is born with a dominant sense – sound, sight, or touch. Less common are smell & taste. V.A.K. list of Preference // V.A.K. Test // Examples:
Visual learners – Statements: “Did you notice her new hair color? / Enough with the theories – just show me! / Wow! Look at all those sail boats! / Peek-a-boo, I see you. Here I am!”….
> Play activities can include computers, CDs, DVDs, charts, diagrams, maps, reading and writing, photography, movies & video
Auditory learners – Statements: “Your argument was very convincing / You’re not listening to me! / Hey, who are you to be so judgmental? / That doesn’t sound right to me” ……
> Play activities can include debating, puppet shows, reciting songs or poems, story-telling, panel discussions, & the use of tape-recording for feedback & correction
Kinesthetic/Tactile learners – Statements: “So, how much did you bench-press today? / I feel these theories are all wrong! / That makes me sick to my stomach! / I want to feel that fabric before I decide”……
> Play activities can include demonstrations, dance, body games (rocking, field trips, modeling), play dough, playing instruments, sand play ….
Play & Learning: Studies at U of CA at Berkley are taking a look at ‘pretending’, which relates to what philosophers call “counter-factual” thinking, like Einstein wondering what would happen if a train went at the speed of light. It seems that children who are better at pretending can reason better about counter-factuals.
This ‘thinking about different possibilities’ has a crucial role in early learning – children at play are like pint-sized scientists testing theories. They imagine how the world could / might work, predict various outcomes if their theories were true, and then compare those ideas to what they actually see. Even toddlers turn out to be smarter than we’ve been assuming, if only we asked the right questions – in the right way. (MORE….)
NEXT: Children & Play – Intro (Part 2)