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Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development 1
Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM
Why Play = Learning
Temple University, USA
University of Delaware, USA
(Published online October2008)
Our children from their earliest years must take part in all the more lawful forms of play,
for if they are not surrounded with such an atmosphere they can never grow up to be well
conducted and virtuous citizens. --Plato, The Republic 1
The study of play has a long history. From Plato to Kant, from Froebel to Piaget,
philosophers, historians, biologists, psychologists, and educators have studied this
ubiquitous behavior to understand how and why we play. Even animals play. This fact
alone leads researchers like Robert Fagan,2 a leader in the study of animal play, to
speculate that play must have some adaptive value given the sheer perilousness and
energy cost to growing individuals. Researchers suggest that play is a central ingredient
in learning, allowing children to imitate adult behaviors, practice motor skills, process
emotional events, and learn much about their world. One thing play is not, is frivolous.
Recent research confirms what Piaget3 always knew, that “play is the work of childhood.”
Both free play and guided play are essential for the development of academic skills.4, 5
Despite the many treatises on play, scholars still find the term elusive. Like
Wittgenstein’s definition of game, the word play conjures up multiple definitions.
Researchers generally discuss four types of play although in practice these often merge:
(a) Object play, the ways in which children explore objects, learn about their properties,
and morph them to new functions; (b) pretend play (either alone or with others),
variously referred to as make-believe, fantasy, symbolic play, socio-dramatic play, or
dramatic play, where children experiment with different social roles; (c) physical or
rough-and-tumble play, which includes everything from a 6-month-old’s game of peek-a-
boo to free play during recess6; and (d) guided play7 where children actively engage in
pleasurable and seemingly spontaneous activities under the subtle direction of adults.
Whether play is with objects, involves fantasy and make believe, or centers on physical
activity, researchers generally agree that from the child’s point of view, eight features
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM
characterize ordinary play. Play is (a) pleasurable and enjoyable, (b) has no extrinsic
goals, (c) is spontaneous, (d) involves active engagement, (e) is generally engrossing, (f)
often has a private reality, (g) is nonliteral, and (h) can contain a certain element of make-
believe.8, 5, 9 Even these criteria for judging play have some fuzzy boundaries.
Key Research Questions
A looming question is whether free play and guided play promote learning or whether
they are simply a matter of releasing pent-up energy for young children. And, if play is
related to learning, is one form of play more advantageous than another? These issues
have dominated the research landscape in the past decade.
Research Context
The findings suggest that both free play and guided play are indeed linked to social and
academic development. For example, Pellegrini10 finds that elementary-aged children
who enjoy free play during recess return to the classroom more attentive to their work.
These children, especially boys, do better in reading and mathematics than do children
who did not have recess. Physical play has also been associated with areas of brain
development (the frontal lobes) that are responsible for behavioral and cognitive control.1
Indeed, a recent study used guided play throughout a school day to help preschoolers
learn how to hold back impulsive behaviors and responses. The so-called executive
function skills (attention, problem solving, and inhibition) nurtured in the guided play
conditions were related to improvements in mathematics and reading.11
Recent Research on Academic Enhancement Through Play
Academically, then, play is related to reading and math as well as to the important
learning processes that feed these competencies. More specifically, there are direct
studies connecting play to literacy and language, and to mathematics. By way of
example, 4-year-olds’ play—in the form of rhyming games, making shopping lists, and
“reading” story books to stuffed animals—predicts both language and reading
readiness.12 Research suggests that children demonstrate their most advanced language
skills during play, and that these language skills are strongly related to emergent
literacy.13, 14 Finally, a review of 12 studies on literacy and play allowed Roskos and
Christie15 to conclude that “play provides settings that promote literacy activity, skills,
and strategies . . . and can provide opportunities to teach and learn literacy.”
Play and playful learning also supports the burgeoning mathematician. A naturalistic
experiment by Seo and Ginsburg16 found that 4- and 5-year-old children build
foundational mathematical concepts during free play. Regardless of children’s social
class, three categories of mathematical activity were widely prevalent: pattern and shape
play (exploration of patterns and spatial forms), magnitude play (statement of magnitude
or comparison of two or more items to evaluate relative magnitude) and enumeration play
(numerical judgment or quantification). Children’s free play contains the roots of
mathematical learning 46% of the time. A recent study by Ramani and Siegler 17
demonstrated that guided play in the form of playing a board game like Chutes and
Ladders also fostered diverse mathematical tasks among lower income preschoolers.
Preschoolers who played the game four times for 15- to 20-minute sessions within a 2-
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM
week period were better at numerical magnitude (which is bigger), number line
estimation, counting, and numeral identification. Finally, Gelman18 found that even
children as young as 2.5 and 3 years of age can demonstrate an understanding of the
cardinal counting principle--that the last number counted in a set is the amount the set
contains. But this skill is only manifest when children are engaged in a playful task.
Recent Research on Social Enhancement Through Play
Free play and guided play are also important for fostering social competence and
confidence as well as for self-regulation, or children’s ability to manage their own
behavior and emotions. In free play children learn how to negotiate with others, to take
turns, and to manage themselves and others.19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 Play is essential for
learning how to make friends and how to get along.
Barnett and Storm28 also find that play serves as a means for coping with distress. Indeed,
Haight, Black, Jacobsen, and Sheridan29 demonstrated that children who have been
traumatized can use pretend play with their mothers to work through their problems.
Taken together, social competencies such as friendship and coping serve as building
blocks for school readiness and academic learning. Raver23 concluded that “from the last
two decades of research, it is unequivocally clear that children’s emotional and
behavioral adjustment is important for their chances of early school success.” It is
through play that children learn to subordinate desires to social rules, cooperate with
others willingly, and engage in socially appropriate behaviorbehaviors vital to
adjusting well to the demands of school.
The datas are clear. Play and guided play offer strong support for academic and social
learning. In fact, comparisons of preschools that use playful, child-centered approaches
versus less playful, more teacher-directed approaches reveal that children in the child-
centered approaches do better in tests of reading, language, writing, and mathematics.30
More engaging and interesting environments for children foster better learning well into
elementary school.31, 30
Given the findings linking play and learning, it is perhaps shocking that play has been
devalued in our culture. Play has become a 4-letter word that often represents the
opposite of productive work. A recent report from Elkind32 suggests that in the last few
years, 30,000 schools have dropped recess to make more room for academic learning.
From 1997 to 2003, children’s time spent in outdoor play fell 50%. In the last 20 years,
children have lost over 8 hours of discretionary playtime per week. Why? Because many
do not realize that play and learning are inextricably intertwined. When children play
they are learning. Children who engage in play and playful learning do better in academic
subjects than do their peers who play less. The work cementing this relationship,
however, is just beginning to emerge and, at this point, relationships between play and
learning are largely based on correlational evidence. In the next decade, we must do more
to compare the relationship of play to the learning of academic and social outcomes in
controlled and empirical ways.
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM
Play is, thus, central for school readiness and school performance. It might also play an
important role in preparing children for the global world beyond the classroom. Business
leaders suggest that in the knowledge age, success will depend on children having a
toolkit of skills that include collaboration (teamwork, social competence), content (e.g.,
reading, math, science, history), communication (oral and written), creative innovation,
and confidence (taking risks and learning from failure). Each of these “Five Cs” is
nurtured in playful learning.
In sum: Play = Learning. As children move from the sandbox to the boardroom, play
should be the cornerstone of their education. The research is clear: Playful pedagogy
supports social-emotional and academic strengths while instilling a love of learning.
1. Panksepp J, Burgdorf J, Turner C, Gordon N. Modeling ADHD-type arousal with
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11. Diamond A, Barnett WS, Thomas J, Munro S. Preschool program improves
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mathematics education? Lessons from new research. In: Clements DH, Sarama J,
DiBiase AM, eds. Engaging Young Children in Mathematics: Standards for Early
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To cite this document:
Hirsh-Pasek K, Golinkoff RM. Why play=learning. In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds.
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early
Childhood Development and Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development; 2008:1-6.
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... Indeed, play is an integral part of our humanity as homo ludens the playful human (Huizinga, 1944;Sutton-Smith 1996). Research in the past ten to fifteen years has increasingly highlighted the critical role of play in the healthy cognitive, social, and physical development of children (Hirsh-Pasek & Michnick Golinkoff, 2008;Marantz Henig, 2008;Ratey, 2008; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015 Canadian Journal of Children's Rights 98 2010). Rather than being deemed a mere luxury, play can contribute to the realization of children's rights to survival and development when properly utilized. ...
... Play can increase children's ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour; play can enhance children's self-efficacy, self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of mastery and well-being; play can help in coping with distress and can foster hope, optimism, and social cohesion; and play can help teach honesty, teamwork, fair play, and respect for oneself and others (Duncan & Lockwood, 2008 Less recognized are play's cognitive benefits, and play's vital role in enhancing the learning process. This is due to the fact that play is often, and erroneously, seen in contrast to productive work (Hammer & Baluja, 2012;Hirsh-Pasek & Michnick Golinkoff, 2008;Marantz Henig, 2008). The IPA global consultations found that these negative perceptions of play have deep roots in the socio-cultural construction of play as a concept in many different societies, 2015 Canadian Journal of Children's Rights 99 ...
... However, not only can play help boost neurological growth and the development of complex, skilled, responsive, and cognitively flexible brains, but play can also enhance the development of concepts and ideas (Duncan & Lockwood, 2008;Marantz Henig, 2008;Ratey, 2008). Through play, children can build their executive functioning and critical thinking skills, and can generate ideas of their own while exercising their imaginations (Colucci, 2012;Duncan & Lockwood, 2008;Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, 2010;Hirsh-Pasek & Michnick Golinkoff, 2008;Miller & Almon, 2009;Ratey, 2008). Well-designed programs that use play as a tool for learning can create a safe environment where mistakes have lower consequences and more risks can be taken and learned from (Duncan & Lockwood, 2008;Marantz Henig, 2008 Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of play is its ability to create a participatory learning environment due to its innately inclusive and interactive qualities that, when tapped into effectively, have the power to transform the mind of the player. ...
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This article uses a rights-based and social ecological approach to explore the role of the right to play in the lives of children and youth, as outlined in Article 31 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), in supporting the actualization of children's meaningful participation, as outlined in Article 12 and as a guiding principle of the UNCRC. This article introduces the limited recognition of the value of play internationally, as emphasized in General Comment 17. It uses a rights-based approach to analyze the intrinsic and instrumental value of play as a right itself and its role in supporting children to actively participate as experts in their own lives, develop leadership skills, express their views, be listened to, and be active in decision-making processes. The authors will explore the positive contribution play can make to the healthy and holistic development of children and youth and how these skills support a sense of agency and leadership in children and youth at present and in their future. Right To Play's methodological approach is grounded in participatory, experiential learning and the work of educationalists. This work will be showcased to highlight how play can strengthen children's meaningful participation. The authors conclude that it is imperative that the international development and humanitarian community continues to strengthen the advocacy for and use of play to strengthen children's wellbeing, healthy development and active participation in their lives.
... Since the 1960s, play's role in children's acquisition of life skills has been increasingly well recognized. Scholars argue that play can increase children's ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour; it can enhance children's self-efficacy, self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of mastery and well-being; help in coping with distress and can foster hope, optimism, and social cohesion; and play can help teach honesty, teamwork, fair play, and respect for oneself and others (Duncan & Lockwood, 2008;Fiorelli, 2011;Hammer & Baluja, 2012;Hirsh-Pasek & Michnick Golinkoff, 2008;Farné, 2005;Marantz Henig, 2008;Miller & Almon, 2009;Ratey, 2008). While play is recognized as critical for development in early childhood, research on the potential for play across all life cycles remains limited. ...
... Meaningful participation can support young people to have the opportunity to engage in critical leadership roles with their peers and community. Additionally, children can build critical thinking skills and generate ideas of their own while exercising imagination through play (Colucci 2012;Hirsh-Pasek & Michnick Golinkoff, 2008). Academic literature is limited by universalistic and normative assumptions of children that often generalize children as identical across time and space, and fail to reflect the multiple ways of knowing of young people (Graham, 2011). ...
Despite play’s recognition in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and evidence that play is beneficial to children’s development, and a vehicle to support realization of other children’s rights, it is one of the most neglected rights of the child. An overarching devalue of play has implications on its relationship with children’s participation rights and correspondingly the realization of young people’s meaningful participation. This article explores the interplay between the right to play and children’s participation rights. Drawing upon a participatory play-based research qualitative study with young people at a youth-driven child rights workshop entitled XXXX and interviews with adults, the article considers the role of play in relational development for meaningful participation, as well as the devalue of play across young people and adults. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of findings and provides recommendations for the role of play to co-create transformative participatory environments in research, policy, and programs.
... Developmental science has demonstrated the value of multiple types of play (Elkind, 2007;Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2008), with the most common type being the free play that occurs during recess. ...
This study investigates the claim that in states where elementary education (ELED) and early childhood education (ECED) licenses share the same grades, the preponderance of generalist teachers in the early grades hold ELED rather than ECED licenses. We investigated this question by sending information requests to 43 states where stand-alone, generalist ECED and ELED licenses overlap in Grades K, 1, 2, and/or 3. Responses from the 25 states that supplied this information indicate that a high percentage of teachers in overlapping grades in these states hold ELED licenses only in kindergarten (77%), 1st grade (76%), 2nd grade (79%), and 3rd grade (82%). Further, states with overlaps in grades 1–2 and 1–3 had substantially higher percentages of teachers with ECED licenses than states with K-3 overlaps: 32% more in 1st grade and 28% more in 2nd grade. The current results support calls for states to restrict the early grades to teachers with ECED licenses only and to base their credentialing standards on developmental science.
... Such a major body of research has extended our knowledge of the characteristics of play and its implications for child development. Play has been found to play a key role in learning (Fein, 1981;Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2008;Orr & Geva, 2015), and in establishing a child's emotional (Russ & Fehr, 2013;Salter, Beamish, & Davies, 2016), social (Howes, 2011;Kavanaugh, 2011;Lillard, 2001), and physical wellbeing (Pesce et al., 2016). However, although the impact of play on child development appears to be fully understood, there has been less research that has investigated the social and environmental factors that impact play itself. ...
A questionnaire given to 221 mothers for gathering information about residential area and family size and three aspects in children’s play habits: frequency, location, and choice of playmate. The results showed that there was a general tendency to play indoors rather than outdoors, regardless of residential area (urban vs. rural). Family size and the age gap between siblings were found to have a significant impact on play habits. Children with two or more siblings were more likely to play with their siblings, particularly if the age gap between them was less than five years. Playing at home with siblings means that the children in this study spent less time playing outdoors and engaging with familiar and unfamiliar peers. The results discussed in terms of the Childrens’ well being and the development of social skills. Parents, professionals, and community planners should consider ways of encouraging children to play outside. © 2018
... Owing to this strong correlation, play is seen as an important part of cognitive development (Nicolopoulou, 2010). In addition, play provides a foundation for academic and social learning (Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff, 2008). ...
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Examining the different stages of learning through play in humans during early life has been a topic of interest for various scholars. Play evolves from practice to symbolic and then later to play with rules. During practice play, infants go through a process of developing knowledge while they interact with the surrounding objects, facilitating the creation of new knowledge about objects and object related behaviours. Such knowledge is used to form schemas in which the manifestation of sensorimotor experiences is captured. Through subsequent play, certain schemas are further combined to generate chains able to achieve behaviours that require multiple steps. The chains of schemas demonstrate the formation of higher level actions in a hierarchical structure. In this work we present a schema-based play generator for artificial agents, termed Dev-PSchema. With the help of experiments in a simulated environment and with the iCub robot, we demonstrate the ability of our system to create schemas of sensorimotor experiences from playful interaction with the environment. We show the creation of schema chains consisting of a sequence of actions that allow an agent to autonomously perform complex tasks. In addition to demonstrating the ability to learn through playful behaviour, we demonstrate the capability of Dev-PSchema to simulate different infants with different preferences towards novel vs. familiar objects.
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Background: Play is an essential component of children’s development. Children with intellectual disability tend to have poor socioemotional abilities and impaired play. This study examined the effects of a medical/therapeutic clowning play intervention on the playfulness of children with intellectual disability. Method: Two medical clowns facilitated a play intervention in a preschool classroom setting with a total of 52 children with intellectual disability. We compared before and after two groups that received the intervention: group 1 met the medical clowns once a week for six months (long-intervention group) and group 2 for three months (short intervention group). Children’s functioning was assessed using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Children’s playfulness was scored using the Test of Playfulness observational assessment. A teachers’ focus- group was used to gather additional information on the clowns’ work. Results: Children’s playfulness increased significantly at the end of the intervention, whereas the improvement in the playfulness scores of group 1 was significantly larger than those of group 2 (t50 = -4.82, p < .001). The teachers’ focus group revealed additional benefits of the medical clowns’ work. Conclusion: The results shed light on the play and playfulness of children with intellectual disability and the possible contribution of a clowning play intervention to their development.
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Students’ participation and motivation are of great importance in their learning process. The decrease in attendance and difficulties in stimulating students’ activity makes it necessary to find new methodologies that can solve these problems. The use of game mechanics in non-ludic environments (Gamification) has begun to be of great interest in research, since it could increase the motivation and therefore the activity of the students. This study tries to verify if there is an existing relationship between gamification and a possible increase in student activity or between the cessation of gamification and student activity. In addition, it evaluates whether a greater student activity corresponds to a greater learning improvement. In the obtained results, no significant differences were found between the methodology or the activity with a learning improvement. According to the study, the simple use of gamified elements does not necessarily imply a solution to the problems posed. The students’ activity in a course of these characteristics does not imply a better learning improvement, the importance lies in the quality of the activity generated and not in the quantity.
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This paper provides an overview of the work being conducted at the Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) Research Centre, based in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK. PEDAL has three main aims, (1) To conduct world-class research, (2) To build capacity in play research and (3) To influence policy and practice. The present paper provides an overview of the history and rationale for PEDAL, followed by some detailed examples of the foci of its work. Exemplar research is presented on the theme of ‘Measuring Play’; an endeavour that is common to many of the different research projects led by PEDAL investigators and Ph.D. students.
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Apresentamos uma revisão de literatura dos artigos que tratam das atividades lúdicas, publicados nos anais dos Encontros de Pesquisa em Educação em Ciências (ENPEC) e na Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa em Educação em Ciências (RBPEC), no período de 1997 a 2017, para compreender como os brinquedos e as brincadeiras são tratados nessas publicações – particularmente, aqueles voltados para o Ensino Fundamental. Para selecionar os trabalhos, utilizamos mecanismos de busca eletrônica disponibilizados nos anais das edições do ENPEC e nas publicações da RBPEC por meio dos títulos e palavras-chave. Para analisar os dados, elaboramos uma categorização que classifica jogo como um objeto que possui regras rígidas, definidas a priori e independentes do sujeito que joga, e brinquedo como um objeto com regras mais flexíveis e elaboradas pelo sujeito que brinca. Nossos resultados mostram que a maioria dos trabalhos analisados foi classificada na modalidade jogo, indicando que os brinquedos e brincadeiras são ainda pouco explorados no contexto deste estudo. Além disso, os trabalhos que priorizam investigar o processo de elaboração e/ou participação em atividades lúdicas obtiveram informações mais detalhadas, que auxiliam na interpretação e compreensão do papel dessas atividades no ensino de Ciências. Entretanto, em alguns trabalhos, a atividade lúdica é considerada eficiente e suficiente por si só, e as informações obtidas por meio da investigação do processo de aplicação são usadas principalmente para confirmar a efetividade pedagógica do produto, indicando a necessidade de estudos mais aprofundados sobre a relação processo/produto nas pesquisas sobre brinquedos e brincadeiras na Educação em Ciências.
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An explanation to account for play behaviors which reflect the reenactment of an unpleasant event has been derived from the view that playful experiences serve to reduce anxiety. It has been suggested that play serves as a neutralizing medium by which young children manipulate a traumatic or anxiety‐inducing situation in an attempt to gain mastery over the event. Observations of young children at play have provided some anecdotal evidence, but as yet there has been no systematic investigation of the hypotheses drawn from the psychoanalytic paradigm. The present study induced a conflict situation in preschool children and compared their subsequent play behavior to a matched neutral group. Pre‐ and post‐physiological and behavioral measures of anxiety and emotional displeasure were taken, and durations of categories of play related to the source of the conflict were recorded. Results supported the view that play provides for the expression, and hence reduction, of an unpleasant event, in that the conflict group showed a reliable decrease in anxiety after play, and the play was related significantly more to the source of the anxiety than was the play of the neutral control group.
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In Study 1, 48 children participated in a longitudinal study of peer play development, from infancy through preschool. Children developed play forms in the expected sequence and at the expected ages. Children showed stability in both proportion and emergence of complex play. Children's pattern of play form emergence and proportion of time in more complex play forms related to subsequent indexes of social competence. In Study 2, the peer play of children aged 10–59 mo was assessed. One sample ( n = 259) attended minimally adequate child-care centers. The other sample ( n = 48) attended a model child-care center. Children in the model center showed complex play form emergence at earlier ages and engaged in greater proportions of complex play than children in the minimally adequate centers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The relation of social fantasy play to several indices of social competence was examined in a sample of 91 preschoolers, aged 35 months to 69 months. Naturalistic observations of the frequency and complexity of social fantasy play during freeplay periods were collected. Competence measures included teacher ratings of social competence, popularity, social role-taking skills, and observations of social behavior. Multiple regression procedures were used to analyze the prediction of social competence from the fantasy measures, independent of age, sex, IQ, and frequency of social activity. The results indicated that the amount and complexity of fantasy play significantly predicted four of the competence measures: teacher rating of peer social skill, popularity, affective role taking, and a behavioral summary score reflecting positive social activity. Fantasy play was also found to be more positive, sustained, and group oriented than was nonfantasy play. Implications of these findings on the role of fantasy play and peer-peer activity in social-skill acquisition are discussed. Fantasy play during the preschool years has been hypothesized to exercise a leading role in the young child's growth and development (Bruner, 1972; Singer, 1973; Vygotsky, 1966). It has also been suggested that fantasy play in the context of a social interaction may lead to the development of socially relevant cognitive skills and a repertoire of competent social behaviors (Garvey, 1977; Smilansky, 1968). According to this view, participation in fantasy play with another child requires a high level of complex cognitive and social abilities. Sharing and cooperation, self-regulation of affect, and an appreciation of cognitive and behavioral role reciprocity are all important underlying skills. Social fantasy play is a unique
The past decade has witnessed growing interest in the role of play in child development, prompting numerous research studies on the effects and correlates of playful behavior. This paper reviews these studies in an attempt to assess the current status of this important area of inquiry. The paper begins with a discussion of the role of play in major developmental theories. Next, a number of experimental and correlational studies are reviewed. These studies are classified in terms of their major correlates or dependent variables: (a) creativity, (b) problem solving, (c) language development, (d) logical skills, and (e) social knowledge. The designs of the studies are critically examined, and problems of internal and external validity are noted. Recommendations are made for future research.
we want to help children get ready for school and succeed there. We know that children—especially low-income, minority children—often have difficulty with school mathematics and science, usually beginning around the third grade. Perhaps intensive early mathematics education can provide the "basics" that can help prepare them to achieve at an acceptable level. At the same time, we do not wish to pressure young children, to subject them to harsh forms of instruction, and to impose on them material they are not ready to learn. We do not want a "push down curriculum" forcing young children to engage in developmentally inappropriate forms of written drill and practice in mathematics. Our desire to prepare children for school success (and to avoid school failure) thus clashes with our reluctance to impose inappropriate forms of teaching on young children. This conflict then raises several basic questions: Are there approaches to early mathematics instruction that are developmentally appropriate for young children and that can help prepare them for school? Can these approaches be both enjoyable and effective for all children—including low-income minority children?
When preschoolers count to check their arithmetic predictions, their counts are better than when they simply count a set of items on count-only tasks. This is so even for 2 1/2- and 3-year-olds dealing with small values. Such results lend support to the view that learning about verbal counting benefits from a nonverbal count-arithmetic system and challenge theories that place understanding of verbal counting at 4 1/2 or 5 years. That preschoolers readily engage in predicting-and-checking number tasks has implications for educational programs.
This study investigated the effects of two types of intervention on preschoolers' play patterns and literacy development. Theme-related literacy materials were added to the dramatic play areas used by 32 children in one teacher's morning and afternoon preschool classes. The two classes were randomly assigned to different treatments: (a) Materials Only, in which literacy materials were available in play areas, but no attempt was made by the teacher to encourage children to use the materials in their play; and (b) Materials Plus Adult Involvement, in which the teacher used suggestions and modeling to encourage children to incorporate the literacy materials into their dramatic play. Before and after the 20-week treatment period, assessments were made of the children's free play behavior and literacy development. Six months later, the literacy assessments were administered for a third time. Quantitative and qualitative play observations revealed that the Materials Plus Involvement treatment was more effective in encouraging literacy-related play than the Materials Only intervention. Analysis of the literacy assessments indicated that, while both groups made significant gains over time, there were no significant between-group differences.
Examined the relation of social fantasy play to several indices of social competence in 91 preschoolers, aged 35–69 mo, enrolled in daycare centers. Naturalistic observations of the frequency and complexity of social fantasy play during free-play periods were collected. Competence measures included teacher ratings of social competence, popularity, social role-taking skills, and observations of social behavior. Multiple regression procedures were used to analyze the prediction of social competence from the fantasy measures, independent of age, sex, IQ, and frequency of social activity. Results indicate that the amount and complexity of fantasy play significantly predicted 4 of the competence measures: teacher rating of peer social skill, popularity, affective role taking, and a behavioral summary score reflecting positive social activity. Fantasy play was also more positive, sustained, and group oriented than was nonfantasy play. Implications of these findings on the role of fantasy play and peer–peer activity in social-skill acquisition are discussed. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)