Supporting a Child at Play
Play among children is very important. Play activities not only create opportunities for young children to bond, but also promote development and skills acquisition among children. However, through play, children learn to socialize into society as they get to learn to follow simple rules (Lindon, 2001). Young children are able to learn many things through play, including the school and other societal concepts (Lindon, 2001). Children who are actively involved in play have a better chance of all rounded growth. All aspects –spiritual, physical, emotional, aesthetic, and social growth are catered for in play activity. Both the parents and teachers play a huge role in ensuring that children play is successful and effective. For this study, six methods used in helping a child to play are discussed (Feeney, Moravcik, & Nolte, 2013).
Watch and Wait
The child was able to initiate a play activity on his own. The child was involved in a role-playing activity where he was playing out a role of a teacher (Feeney, Moravcik, & Nolte, 2013). The learners were small plants whom he would ask questions. He punished the ones who were not giving out the correct answers. This is an important part to remember whenever a person intends to support a child effectively at play. Games initiated by a child are given more interest and the child likes them more than the ones initiated by an adult (Feeney, Moravcik, & Nolte, 2013). Initiating a game gives children time to experience and show what they feel inside themselves.
It was observed as the child made selective use of various words to give meaning to the context of the play. He would say words like, books, chalk, and homework. It was also noted that the child seemed to copy what the teacher does in the class (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). He would remove a red pen from the front pocket to mark the works of the children. Observation is another important aspect (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). Observation gives the adult an opportunity to study what the child is doing before joining in the play. Through observation, the adult would know what is missing in the play that would make them play more interesting and the part that the adult can play in the activity.
After observing the child for some time, he decided to let the observer join the play but not to interrupt the play and let the control in the child’s hand. The observer took the role of a parent who is interested in bringing a child to join the class (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). Therefore, the observer fixed a tree branch in the middle of other plants; this was his child in the middle of other children, ready to learn. The child was able to answer all the queries of the observer (the parent) even when asked about the name of other learners in the class. The teacher did not mind giving two learners the same name. The parent told the teacher the name of the new learner. It was noticed that new learner was given more attention than others were, but he did not mention that to the “teacher” because that would amount to disruption. Experts advise that children should control all the aspects of play. The teacher or parent can only guide the child (Lindon, 2001).
Acknowledge and Encourage
The play lasted so long that and the observer realized that boredom was taking toll on the child being observed. He therefore changed roles and volunteered to be another teacher so that we could teach together with the child. He also congratulated the child for being a good teacher (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). The child was happy when the observer mentioned to him that he would one day make a good class teacher. Encouragement boosts the child’s morale; it raises self-esteem and the child start to believe more on his abilities (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). Parents and teachers should never forget to encourage a child, especially when the child initiated the game played.
Scaffolding is described as the support given to a person, until he or she is able to support him or herself in achieving the desired objective. As the adult in the activity, the observer’s main part was to support the child (Lindon, 2001). He made the play livelier by providing clothing to the “learners” (Lindon, 2001). The cloths were of bright colors and the child got the initial enthusiasm that was observed earlier in the activity. The child was later able to improvise more things to make the play more interesting. The ability of a child to improvise on his or her own during a play encourages imagination and creativity (Lindon, 2001)
Adjust the Challenge
To make the play challenging and involving, the observer introduced real writing. They included books and pencils where they pretended to show the learners how to write. This was important because it enabled them to learn and perfect their writing skills while playing (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). Parents and teachers need to ensure that play helps children learn new concepts or improves on known concepts (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013).
Through the play activity, the child was able to have fun, socialize, solve problems, and think. The play connected the child to his surrounding, the people around him, his imagination, and the world (Feeney, Moravcik & Nolte, 2013). The observer’s involvement in the game created a bond with the child. If they could do more of such interactions, the bond would have been strengthened more. Parental/teachers involved in a child’s play can create teachable moments, improve communication, sharing of values, and solving problems together (Lindon, 2001). the method that worked was the one where the observer allowed the child to be in control of the whole play activity. This enables children to engage only in activities that interest them the most and are able to be creative to make the activity livelier.
Feeney, S., Moravcik, E. & Nolte, S. (2013). Meaningful curriculum for young children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Lindon, J. (2001). Understanding children’s play. Cheltenham, UK: N. Thornes