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Child Development

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child development

By: gillyboy

The Importance of Play in a Child's Development The majority of research done by Cognitive Psychologists dealing with human cognition has revealed it to be related to the human imagination. As evident by the fact that many psychologist view the process of thinking as the forming of mental representations and through the manipulation of these imaginative images we come to form thoughts. Thus, the imaginative skills a child learns during play are vital for that child's successful develop into a well adapted and functional adult. Through the simply act of play a child's ability to create mental icons is stimulated because a child's activity during play is mainly imaginary. In this imaginary world children learn to deal with reality and for this reason a child's play-time activities have a great bearing on their social, emotional, behavioral, and overall cognitive development. Therefore, to coin a phrase used in a, "Families Today," column authored by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., with Dr. Joshua Sparrow, "play is a child's work." Play, like all other human behaviors, appears to be vital for an individual's survival. The value of play to our growth as a species is illustrated by the actuality that it facilities a child's needed exploration of their environment. Furthermore, a child at play is not only developing basic motor skills but is also beginning to understand how the world relates to them personally because plays seems to further the nature psychological ability present in each person child of object permanence. This ability to imagine, "an object even though it is not presently sensed," as the text says, is the foundation of human cognition. In effect, the fantasies created by a child during play which the text summarized as, "a pleasurable activity engaged in for its own sake, with means emphasized rather than ends," which is, "not usually engaged in as a serious activity and is flexible in that it varies in form or context," stimulates and cultivates the entire process of thought in a human being. The reality that a great deal of a person's thought is formulated during play makes it a subject worth studying. One such study was conducted by Mildred Parten. In her study Parten observe 42 children between the ages of 2 and 4Ð... years old at play which lead her to identify five distinct ways in which children play. In the model, produced as a result of this experiment, children tend to become more social as they age. The child increases their social active by gradually begin to stop playing solitarily. Parten, believes that the move a child makes from playing alone to playing with other, called associative play, is done by a phenomenon, known as parallel play, in which children begin to parallel their behavior after one-another. According to Parten, as children spent more and more time at play during the associative stage of play they slowly begin to structure their actions around rules and this is identified as cooperative play. Imagination remains prevalent throughout the various types of play because the amount of mental activity increases at each stage of a child's social development. Parten's final stage of cooperative play wouldn't be possible if the children didn't agree upon the parameters to governs their play which requires that they share the same idea or vision, an event the text referred to as, "social fantasy play." This constant sharing by a child of the same visions and ideas with other members of their peer group creates more complex social interactions and stronger emotional ties between children which may lead to friendship. Whatever the causes of friendship, play between a child and a member of their peer group benefits the child's social skills. As Bettelheim said, "a child begins to master social relations as," they, "learn to adjust themselves to other if group play is to continue." A child learns what is needed to form meaningful relationships with others by playing with other children. The child learns that relationships between peers and indeed all people are based on compromise. As noted by Dr. Brazelton in his statement that, "in healthy peer relationships between toddlers, children learn the give and takes of equality." This is a fundamental aspect of the relationships a child must form throughout its life in order to grow into a well adjust adult. These various relationships formed during childhood give a child the opportunity to experience the emotional responses that accompany those relationships. Cognition is formed through experience and as such these early relationships allow a child to learn methods for dealing with their emotions through their further understanding of them. The obvious social ramifications of a child's play-time are underlined by its behavioral benefits. For example, the development of a child's motor reflexes is directly related to play. As Bettelheim said a child,"masters body control as he skips and jumps and run." Play is probably the best form of exercise available to a child. The primary behavioral benefit of play is the acquisition of knowledge through a child's tendency to observe other children and then model the behavior of those other children; therefore, a child can learn something from another child simply by watching the other child. Dr. Braselton illustrates this skill in toddlers by stating that they have the, "ability to pick up and imitate whole sequences of a peer's behavior."

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