Child development is an area that has attracted many scholars. A child’s biological, social and psychological development plays a major role to the future of every individual. Children have social interactions that are peculiar to their age. Children’s social interaction can either promote or impede social interactions in the future. With changing ways of life, there are various changes in children’s way of life. Aspects such as media, urbanizations, school life and family life have direct or indirect influence on children development. Children play is an important aspect of children development. It is commonly accepted that children develop most of their social aspects through plays.
Definition of children Play
Defining a children play is not easy. To have a good definition of a children play, one must be able to differentiate between children play, adult games and work. Children play can be understood an activity of children, either alone or with other children (Scarlett 56). Observing children at play is the best way to gain insight into the definition of children play. In a children play, it is observed that children play individually or in a group. Unlike the adult perception, plays are very important to children. In childhood, there is no distinction between work and play, for children activities can referred to as play. Just like in work, children play can be tiring, challenging and rewarding to the children.
Various aspects of children play can help develop a definition of children play. In a play children can be viewed as active participants, learners, social beings, autonomous, and emotional beings. In a children play, children participate actively in various activities depending on age. Children may play individually or play with other children. For example, a child may play with a toy or any other individual activity. On the other hand, a child may play with other children as in a care centre. Social aspects of children play are observed in social interactions between individual children in a play. Emotional aspects of children play are observed in emotional involvement of the participants. Participants in a children play are aware and are emotionally involved with the other participant (Scarlett 67). The autonomy of individual children in a children play is very important.
Children plays differ from one place to another. A social, cultural, economic and religious aspect of the community where a child belongs, determines the kind of plays that children participate. In spite of different children plays, there common features in all children plays. One common aspect is enjoyment of the plays. Children across cultural, social or economic background seem to enjoy their plays. Children play is very important to children development. Children seem to learn easily through children plays. Through the plays, children are able to develop their socials and interpersonal skills. In addition, children plays help in cognitive development.
Children have social interaction with other children, parent and other individuals (Wineger 23). Social interaction in children plays an important role in child’s social, psychological and cognitive development. Observing children interaction is interesting and provides important information on a child. The interaction between older, younger and children of the same age differ significantly. In children below the age of two, it was observed that the child had both symmetric and asymmetric behavior with other children. The child was observed to be friendly to children of same age. The child interacted with both girls and boys of the same age in a symmetric manner (Scarlett 79). The child had close interaction and reciprocal behavior with other children of the same age. For example, the child would hold hand, smile, and share toys with children of the same age. Asymmetric behaviors were observed in interaction with children of different age. For example, the child would assume leadership role when interacting with children of younger age while assuming submissive behavior while interacting with children of older age. In younger children, difference in gender was observed to have very little influence on social interactions. This phenomenon was however different in older children. Older children seemed to interact more with children of the same gender. Although there were common plays, boys and girls participated in different plays. For example, boys seemed to enjoy playing with motor vehicle toys while girls were observed to enjoy playing with dolls.
Children learn to be social being through their social interaction (Wineger 57). The various intersections in social interaction of children shed light on their social and psychological development. Children of similar age tend to develop friendship and mutual trust that lead to reciprocal behavior. In children of different age, asymmetric behaviors are observed. A younger child will tend to be submissive to another child older aged. In this case the older child assumes leadership roles while the younger child assume subordinate role.
Piaget and Vygotsky Influence on Teaching of Children
Piaget and Vygotsky have contributed largely on approaches and method of teaching. The researchers offer explanation to cognitive learning abilities and styles of children provides (Salkind 17). Although they differ in some aspect, Piaget and Vygotsky provide insight into an approach that considers child development in teaching (Woolfolk 78).
Piaget postulates that cognitive development from infancy to adulthood take place in four stages. According to Piaget, Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete operational and Formal operational stages are consecutive and universal. Sensorimotor stage of cognitive development occurs between zero and two years. At this stage the child is able to become aware of the world though senses and movement. At the end of this stage the child is able to understand that existence of objects is independent of vision (Woolfolk 86). The child is also able to understand that his or her movement can cause movement of other objects. This is the start of goal directed behaviors in children. At the second stage, the child’s mental operations are not fully developed. At this stage, the child is limited in their thinking. For example, the child is not able to think through actions. Children at this stage have egocentric behavior. Due to geocentricism, the child is not able to interact with other individuals but is involved in individual behavior and monologue. The third stage of cognitive development occurs between seven and eleven years. At this stage children have developed some mental capacity (Woolfolk 87). The children acquire basic capability of reasoning. According to Piaget, children at this stage learn better through hand-on experience with objects. The last stage of development is a possibility. At this stage an individual is able to think independent of objects.
The stages of cognitive development according to Piaget have influenced modern teaching. In children in preoperational stage, the teachers use teaching strategies and methods that are in harmony with the stage. Since the children have not developed full thinking capacity, the teachers use verbal and actions instructions. The children at this stage of cognitive development are not able to think through processes, the teachers use demonstration in order to assist the children to learn. In addition, teachers at this stage are encouraged to sensitive to egocentric inclination of the children. At the concrete operations stage, hand on experience such as experiments and problem solving are introduced. Individual learning with teachers’ guidance is encouraged. Teaching in formal operational stage involves introduction of educational projects and research. Student at this stage are viewed as individuals that can think by their own to solve world problems.
While Piaget gives an individual cognitive development, Vygotsky views cognitive development in a social perspective. According to Vygotsky, children learn through social and cultural interaction with their environment. Vigotsky views learning as dialogue between an individual with other individuals as well as learning environment. Vigotsky emphasizes on the need for help in cognitive development (Woolfolk 91). Through Co-construction and scaffolding is able to have an easier cognitive development. Although Vygotsky appreciates the limitation of a child’s mental capacity, he believed that with proper assistance children could be able to solve problems that out of their capability.
Vygotsky principle of development is evident in teaching method today. Using Vygotsky explanation, the teachers are closely involved in teaching. The teachers guided their children learning providing assistance, feedback and hints. The cultural and social aspects of the children are taken into consideration. Teachers use social aspect of learning such as peer learning and study groups. In addition, children are provided with necessary learning materials such as resource books, computers and graphs.
Zone of proximal development
According to Vygotsky, the zone of proximal development is a zone where a child can perform a challenging task when given assistance (Salkind 121). To investigate this principle, two third grade students were asked to read an article with difficult words. The first child was asked to read the article on her own while the second child was assisted. The first child started to read the article with confidence but lost her confidence after meeting the first few difficult words. The rest of the article was read with difficulties. The second child was helped to read through article in the first time and then asked to read it on her own. As compared to the first child, the second child read the article with confidence and little difficulties.
From the observations, with proper assistance children can perform tasks that are thought to be beyond their capability. Zone of proximal development shows the importance of co-construction in cognitive development. By appreciating this principle, children can be assisted to achieve higher goals.
Homonym, Homophone and riddle
Riddles, homonym and homophone jokes are popular with children. There tools are used in language development as well a social interaction between adults and children and between children (Heimburge & Rief 48). Young children that are below five years have very limited capability for homonym, homophones and riddles. In most cases these tools are used with children that are above six years. At this age the children are able to recognize difference in words as well as appreciate the humor.
Children are born with inherent cognitive capabilities. Although born with inherent abilities, proper environment and assistance is necessary for full cognitive development. Adults, social and cultural settings play major role in learning. A child’s parent play an important role in child’s learning. Parents and caretakers help cognitive development of a child by providing an appropriate environment for child’s development. Parent and caretaker can assist children to learn by offering them experiences that raise their curiosity to learn. Learning in children is a process; children build their knowledge on earlier knowledge (Heimburge & Rief 136). When a child encounters new experience, he reflects on previous knowledge in order to interpret the experience. A teaching approach should take into consideration of the progressive cognitive development.
Adre is one of popular children films. This film portrays various aspects of children as compared to those of adults. The film is about a seal that befriends a family. Harry, the father, is in love with the seal. Harry’s wife Thalice, children Toni, Paula and Steve are also in love with the seal. Although the other members of the family are in love with the seal, it is Toni who likes Adre most. The movies portray various childhood ideologies. Toni has a very different perception of the seal. He view the seal as the only worthy friend in his life. Toni is ready to sacrifice a lot for the seal. While adult fishermen view an enemy for interfering with their catch, Toni view the seal a friend and a playmate. Influence of adults on children lives is viewed when Toni is persecuted fishermen’s children at school.
Blood diamond and The American Beauty are some of the movies that I have watched. Blood Diamond is set in Sierra Leon in Africa while The American Beauty is set in America. In Blood diamond, men play the major roles in the society. Women and small children remain in villages while men and older boys go for diamond mining. In the American Beauty, the American way of life is portrayed. As compared to the Black Diamond, children in American Beauty have significant influence on the family’s decisions. In the Black Diamond, children are forced to participate in adult activities such as mining and war.
There have been various changes in American childhood. Cultural, economic and technological changes have led to significant changes on American childhood. America is a country of diversity; the diversity has led to a unique culture. This culture has influenced the way childhood is constructed. Change in family life has also influenced children lives. Technological changes have changed the way in which children spent their time. Unlike where children participated in group play, individual activities such as watching television and computer games have become popular.
Disneyland provides unique opportunity to reflect on childhoods. I agree with Hunt and Frankberg’s that childhood is all about play (Prout & James 118). Disneyland provides important history on social cultural development of America. In a country where childhood is lost early in life, Disneyland helps to revisit important historical events. Disneyland offers an efficient and cost effective means of revisiting the history as well as for learning from early events.
Children are important members of our society. Children require to develop both socially and psychologically for then to be responsible adults in the future. Children plays play an important role is social and cognitive development of a child. Although other assistance should be offered, children should be allowed to play.
Heimburge, Julie. & Rief, Sandra. How to reach and teach all children through balanced literacy: user-friendly strategies, tools, activities, and ready-to-use materials. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2007.
Prout, Alan. & James, Allison. Constructing and reconstructing childhood: contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Salkind, Neil. An introduction to theories of human development. New York: Sage, 2004.
Scarlett, George. Children’s Play. New York: Sage, 2005.
Wineger, Lucien. Social interaction and the development of children’s understanding. New York: Ablex Pub. Corp, 1999.
Woolfolk, Anita. Educational Psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004.