The benefits and acceptance of play in the early year’s classroom is not a universal attitude. Differing cultural, social and political aspects determine the importance given to play in early years settings. However the Irish curriculum strongly believes in play being an important part of a child’s learning experience. The main aim of this essay is to make the point that work and play are not necessarily separate activities and can be integrated to maximise the child’s learning in many areas of development for example oral language “Using play to develop cognitive abilities through oral language” (http://www.curriculumonline.ie/uploadedfiles/PSC/Exemplar_2.pdf). Not only do children enjoy play but we are in breach of their rights of a child by depriving them of play in the early stage in their life, although going to school is one the steps in entering a more grown up world, in which certain rules and procedures must be followed it is also a chance to experience a more developed and more social type of play and explore new experiences through play. “According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), however, all children have a right to play. (OHCHR, 1990)”.
In the primary classroom there are many different types of social play and they usually take on the form of Parten’s five types, Onlooker behaviour—Playing passively by watching or conversing with other children engaged in play activities, solitary independent—Playing by oneself, parallel—Playing, even in the middle of a group, while remaining engrossed in one's own activity, Cooperative—When children organize themselves into roles with specific goals in mind (e.g., roles of mommy daddy and child in home setting), associative—When children share materials and talk to each other, but do not coordinate play objectives or interests. (Parten, M. 1932). These different types of play can happen during various activities of play and the type of learning which occurs and how this learning occurs varies as well. From my reading on play in early years classrooms and that of which I experienced in lectures I have learned that play does not necessarily come in the form of toys or dress up. Many materials and resources can be used by the teacher to incorporate learning through play into the early year’s classroom for example learning through Dramatic Play, Sand Play, Water Play, Dough and Clay Play, Table Top Play, Small World Play, Construction Play, and Creative Play. In many of these play settings children draw upon their past experiences not only things that they have done but things that they have seen others do, parents, family members, teachers friends or people in their communities. They also play based on more indirect experiences for example things they read about see on television or in computer games and they build or create games based on these experiences, create play scenarios, and engage in activities. Children learn mental, emotional, social and physical skills from these play experiences. Depending on the category of play in which the child is engaged they must use fine and gross motor skills, react to each other socially, think about what they are doing or going to do, use language to talk to each other or to themselves and they very often respond emotionally to the play activity. Music games can be used to promote language development, motor skills and co-ordination, they are also leaning to listen and gain confidence through performance activities. Creative movement expands a child's imagination. By transforming everyday objects in role plays or dramatic play, such as egg cartons into caterpillars, the child gains independence in creating their own world of play. They learn the different attributes of certain materials and how they can be used effectively to recreate something familiar to the child. These types of activities can also reinforce mathematical skills such as sorting, classifying, sharing, counting and using one to...
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