Play is behaviour that humans and animals participate in to explore and learn in their environments. Humans are involved in play all their lives to learn and to have pleasure. Through play children, among other things, develop language that then is the basis for literacy skills that are taught at schools.
Play develops a number of skills:
Fine and gross motor skills
Sensory knowledge (sight, hearing, taste, touch, exploration of space) Exploration of different roles
Development of social skills – best indicator of success at school Development of cognitive skills
Development of problem solving skills and thinking skills Development of language skills
Play enables children to show their mental representations of the world and enables children to interpret their world.
There is structured and unstructured play. Adults often direct structured play and there are rules etc. In unstructured play children choose the activity and make their own rules.
Play provides a medium for learning. The learning needs met through play include the opportunity to: Practise, choose, imitate, imagine, gain confidence, persevere Acquire new knowledge, skills
Create, observe, experiment, think
To communicate, question, interact with others, social interaction To know and value one’s own strengths and limitations
All of this learning is done in a safe environment that encourages confidence and consolidates skills.
There are many theories of play – most notable would be Piaget, Vygotsky and Bateson
Through play language can be developed in the following areas: Language functions (directing others, requesting, choosing) Discourse skills - turn taking, staying on topic
Listening and following instructions
Understanding and asking questions
Story/narrative, sequencing and problem solving
Types of play