Sample Critical Analysis Paper on Child Observation

Child Observation: Analysis of the Effect of outdoor games to child development


The paper is an in-depth analysis of the findings that were obtained from an observational study
carried out in three locations frequented by children who like outdoor games. These locations
were; a public park, a church yard, and an estate playground. The games that were most common
in all locations were hopscotch, stacking blocks, knucklebones (the five stones), Mancala, hide-
and-seek, soccer, follow the leader, rope jump, and squat jumping. It was noted that some games
incorporate both boys and girls. For instance in hide-and-seek game, the players irrespective of
gender, conceal themselves in the immediate surrounding and then sought by one or more
seekers. Girl games were established as orderly and procedural. In this case they were generally
quieter and required less energy. On the contrary, boys’ games were action packed, rough, and in
most cases generated a lot of noise. Unlike the girls, boys had a tendency of playing in bigger
groups and more likely to take risks. Girls tend to preferred plays that promote social interactions
such as role play. The study determined that games promote intellectual growth and the ability to
control emotions. Plays enhance skill development, social interaction, and creativity. These
ideals were identified as key in terms of shaping the life of an adult.

Keywords: children, play, games, boys, girls, skills, playmate

Child Observation: Analysis of Effect of Outdoor Games to Child Development.
Children need to play not only to enhance their development, but also to bond with each
other. This helps them understand the environment and society in which they constitute. Until
recently before the invasion of PlayStation, kids have been playing outdoor games such as
hopscotch, stacking blocks, Knucklebones (the five stones), Mancala, hide-and-seek, soccer,
follow the leader, and many others. Unlike the electronic entertainment, outdoor games help
young boys and girls to develop essential life skills, promote social interaction, and enhance
creativity through imagination. A study on a public park, churchyard, and estate playground,
where a majority of children go to play, recorded some findings on the type, nature, and ways
certain games are played by children as it is discussed below.
Do boys and girls play together? If so, to what extent?
The answer here is yes. Some games incorporate both boys and girls. For instance in
hide-and-seek game, the players irrespective of gender, conceal themselves in the immediate
surroundings and then sought by one or more seekers. However, during playtime boys have a
tendency of making new rules that increase their chances of winning and hence ensuring their
dominance over their female playmates. When a boy says something, both peers (boys and girls)
appear to comply. On the contrary, when a girl makes a certain demand during play interactions,
only the female playmates respond. Boys tend to resist compliance of the girl’s demands. In the
general observation of the games that accommodate peers of both genders, it was evident that the
tactics by boys for influencing playmates was different from what girls preferred. Girls seek
influence over their playmates through the use of polite requests in choosing their interaction
styles or preferred modes of play. On the other hand, boys accomplish this through
confrontational requests and direct demands.

Differences in the games boys play and those that girls play
From the observation of the estate playground, boys like plays that trigger competition
with each other such as soccer, wrestling, bicycling, coin toss, marble race, and so on. However,
girls seek enjoyment from the plays they indulge in, for instance, hopscotch, jump rope, playing
with dolls, squat jumping, and many others. Girl games are orderly and procedural. In this case
they are generally quieter and requires less energy. Boys’ games are action packed, rough, and in
most cases generate a lot of noise. Unlike the girls, boys have a tendency of playing in bigger
groups and more likely to take risks. Girls tend to prefer plays that promote social interactions
such as role play. This is because they seek out connection with each other rather than power
(Bailey, 2006). In contrast, boys get involved in plays that take advantage of their mechanical
skills and creativity. They also seek power rather than connection with their games.
How children socialize during playtime
When kids are allowed to play uninterruptedly, their socialization skills are built through
the free interaction with each other. Games such as rope jump, squat jumping, soccer, hide-and-
seek allow kids to jump, run, and sing. This physical activity not only offers a chance for
children to exercise, but also teaches social skills. A child learns to take turns, hence the virtue of
patience is promoted in such an instance. Additionally, he/she is reminded of the need to accept
defeat after losing or celebrate victory after winning. Soccer is an example of a game in which
children learn the art of sharing and cooperation to tackle a challenge or attain a common
objective. This takes place when each team toils to score into the opponent team’s goal post. It is
one form of associative play that emphases the importance of teamwork when a group of
individuals share similar goals.

One game that children find enjoyable and enhances social skills is the Mancala. Here, a
board with 10 or 12 compartments is used in the game. When playing it, a specific number of
small stones, seeds, or marbles are moved by the player from one compartment to the other. This
is done repeatedly until the player captures more pieces than the opponent. In this game, a child
is able to generate his/her own strategy in order to win. Thus, a child is able to learn how to use
moral reasoning to navigate through obstacles or circumstances.
Lessons children learn as they play games
Through observation, the researcher was able to note that toddlers (children below three
years of age) preferred constructive plays to other games. They like building with blocks, using
domestic toys, playing in the sand, and sketching. They also insert objects in their mouths to
know how they feel or taste. This helps them a great deal in scrutinizing objects and innovating
tactics and patterns in their quest to find out one that is both workable and convenient. In
constructive play, a child feels proud when a particular task has successfully been accomplished.
Children between 5-10 years of age have a tendency of playing cooperative games like Simon
Says, Follow the Leader, and basketball. Here, there is always a leader, whom other playmates
follow his/her instructions. The presence of this authority creates certain rules that guide the
game. Thus, one is in when he/she adheres to the set rules and definitely out if he/she doesn’t
adhere or understand them. For that matter, there is a transition from a state of being self-
centered to abiding by the general social principles embodied in the play. Hence, games that
have specific rules convey an important message to the children that life has principles, rules,
and values that everyone irrespective of gender must follow (Bodrova & Leong, 2005).
During playtime, children are equally good at imitating those whom they consider role
models. For example, some will assume the role of a teacher, news anchor, pastor, nurse, pilot,

and so on. These fantasy plays are more common in boys than girls. The players do try to learn
new roles and situations, think and create beyond the world. The abstract nature of thinking often
expands the limits of their imagination leading to the generation of new concepts and dreams. In
addition, these games do give children the necessary platform to try out their new findings and
Games as a reflection of the society’s cultural beliefs, attitudes, and/or values
Games that children play reflect whatever happens in the society in terms of cultural
beliefs, attitudes, and values. For instance, girls play games using dolls and domestic toys. These
dolls are stereotypically feminine and thus girls are hard-wired to the belief that they are the ones
who bear children and for that matter should show learn to show care to their babies. Domestic
toys do remind the girls of their role of carrying out domestic chores when they grow up. On the
other hand, trucks and cars are labelled as ‘boy’s toys’. They are stereotypically masculine and
for that resonates well with the belief that making or driving trucks and cars is a preserve of men.
However, this has been demystified in the modern world as women do things such as car
manufacture, car racing, mechanical works, and so on that were initially done by men only.
Games promote intellectual growth and the ability to control emotions. In real life, success and
failure are some of the factors that evoke emotions in a person. Children learn how to react when
they win or lose by playing. Similarly, games improve the problem solving ability of a child and
that conforms to the functions of a leader or an executive of an organization. When playing a
game like Knucklebones, a child has to plan, strategize, organize, and make decisions in order to
The effect of games in a child’s future

Plays have a high tendency of allowing children to develop their own power of reason.
This progressively bulds their creativity as they grow up into adulthood. Playing with others
helps a child to perfect his/her skills and this helps in developing self-confidence and the ability
to overcome the obstacles. For example, when a child manages to hop over all squares
successfully in playing hopscotch, he usually feels a sense of achievement. However, when
misses the square aimed with a stone, he feels disappointed and wasted. This is important for a
kid especially when he grows up because he would be able to express their views, dissatisfaction,
or frustrations (Ginsburg, 2007).
From the above discussion, one can deduce that games allow young boys and girls to
socialize and how to be part of a group. This equips them with negotiation skills, the value of
sharing, and teamwork to become responsible individuals in future. Decision-making skills are
also developed when a person is still young. Thus, games are not only essential, but also critical
to all child development irrespective of gender, culture, or social class.



Bailey, C.M. (2006). Learning through play and fantasy, EC 1297E, Corvallis, OR: Oregon
State University.
Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. (2005). The importance of play, why children need to play. Early
Childhood Today, 20 (3), 6-7.
Ginsburg, K.R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy children development
and maintaining strong parent-child bond, Journal of American Academy of