PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Play (#5)
SITE: Scientific Benefits of Play
BOOK: “Cycles of Power” ˜ Pamela Levin (Developmental Stages)
QUOTE: “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, & the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Khalil Gibran
📕 Maria Montessori said “Children’s play is their work….”, and modern play therapists added “Toys are their words”. Children are concrete learners, & must experience their world through all their senses in order to make sense of it.
At it’s best, a child’s world is filled with the magic of exploration, discovery, make-believe & play – vehicles for development. Play is the most important activity in their lives – sometimes more desired than food & sleep
• Actually, IF given the opportunity – Play is one of the most powerful tools children have for trying out & mastering new ideas, skills & activities. Much of their 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 empowerment by being in control of their small world, rarely available to them later in real life.
Normal BRAIN Development
Although we’re born with basic genetic wiring, most of our synaptic connections form in early childhood. This process is shaped by internal & external experiences, & guided by the emotional bonds created between parent & child
So it’s very important to provide a loving family, warm home, with 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. Greatest growth is seen in sensori-motor & visual cortex, & then the frontal lobe. Piaget’s “practice play” reflects the development of these areas
1.5 – 3 yrs: Synapses continue to expand, reaching about 1,000 trillion – twice the density of the adult brain. so the toddler brain is twice as active.
3 – 6 yrs: Fastest growth period for the frontal lobes. Processing speed, memory & problem solving increases
6-9 yrs: The synaptic connections in motor & sensory areas are firmly established. Elimination of synapses (pruning) in these areas has begun. Children’s levels of attention & ability to modify impulses increases.
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:
> Statement : “Enough with the theories – just show me!”
> Play activities can include computers, CDs, DVDs, charts, diagrams, maps, reading & writing, photography, movies & video
> Statement : “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
> Statement : “That makes me sick to my stomach!”
> 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 look at ‘pretending’, which relates to what philosophers call “counterfactual 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 counterfactuals
❖ ‘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, 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)