PREVIOUS: Childhood Play – Forms, #1
SITE: Science & Human Play
FORMS of PLAY in Childhood (cont.)
2. EMOTIONAL / Psychological
Attunement Play (P,) is when a connection is being formed between newborn & mother, as she makes faces & funny noises, tickles, rubs, sings….. & as the infant makes eye contact with mother, causing a mutual surge of joy. This is seen on EEGs…: the right cerebral cortex, which organizes emotional control, is “attuned” in both infant and mother
Quiet P – activities useful when the child is tired or needs ‘down time’ but not sleep. Can often be conducted in one place, such as looking at books working with blocks, coloring, finger painting, using play dough…..
Constructive P – Psychologically, being able to form something new from available materials gives a child a sense of accomplishment & empowerment – that they can be in control of or have an effect on their environment
Deep P – which allows the child to encounter risky or even potentially life-threatening experiences, to develop survival skills and conquer fear (rock-climbing, para-sailing, jumping from a platform in a harness….)
Symbolic P – which allows control, gradual exploration and increased understanding without the risk of being out of one’s depth (educational video games, virtual driving practice, ‘scuba diving’ in a pool or shallow pond….)
3. MENTAL / Artistic
Imaginative, Fantasy or Socio-dramatic Play – ‘rearranges’ reality as the child pictures it, where conventional rules governing the physical world do not apply. Somewhere in the preschool years, children begin using make-believe to invent scenes & act them out – “dress-up, doctor, restaurant, princess, pirate…”. Early ages they play alone, with dolls & may have imaginary companions, sometimes with adults. Later they incorporate other children. (See “Social Play”) Creative Play allows for new responses, the transformation of information, awareness of new connections, & an element of surprise.
First Pretend Play: Typically 15 – 21 mths. It’s when children use a toy copy of an object on someone – usually a doll – the way they would the real thing (feed with spoon, comb hair…). Piaget believed this kind of play was an important indicator of a child’s capacity to use symbols.
Substitute Pretend P: Between ares 2-3 children start using objects to stand for something altogether different, such as a carrot & stick as imaginary violin and bow.
This type of P. is key to innovation, creativity & nourishing the spirit. In a risk-free environment, as children grow, there will be lots of practice to develop needed abilities.
However, deprivation & trauma inhibit or prevent learning many of the following skills:
• practical coping tools that come from trying out new roles & possible situations, learning to take turns, co-operate, share
• abstract & flexible thinking: use & understand amounts, numbers, place, symbols, time…. (essential knowledge in an ever-more technological society)
• experimenting with language, use new words or word- combinations to express ideas, concepts, dreams, emotions & histories
• stretching the imagination to create beyond the here and now
• forming a sense of how others think, & learning how to function in the greater community, which helps to understand & trust others
Communication Play – Children who are comfortable manipulating objects and materials also become good at manipulating language, ideas & concepts. They play using words, nuances or gestures, debates, jokes, mime, making fun of, poetry, play acting, puns, singing…
Narrative P – Storytelling is how most kids love to learn and is considered the unit of human understanding, so is important to healthy early development. It teaches about other places & societies, develops the intellect, makes sense of the world & one’s particular place in it, passes on tradition, while indirectly teaching social mores & values.
NEXT: Child Play FORMS – #3