This essay will explore the play provision in which the setting is providing. Strengths and weaknesses will be discussed and ways in which these can be improved; using research from different play pioneers and theorists to help deepen the understanding of provision and how to make sure it is always inclusive and supporting the holistic child’s individual needs. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified by the UK government in 1991. Under Article 31 of the Convention it states that: “Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities” (UNCRC, 1991 p.4). The countries belonging to the United Nations, therefore, have recognised play as a right for all children. In 1993 Cohen (2007, p21) suggested that play started at the beginning of mankind. He reports that Greek and Roman children played with different objects. Greek children enjoyed making balls for pigs’ bladders showing their creativity side and Roman children liked to play with toy soldiers. They also took part in running and jumping games and piggybacked ﬁghts. Hoops were made out of the iron frames of wheels. Depending on the society in which children live, children’s play would be reflected. In the case of Greek and Roman children, physical activities took place alongside adults. During this period, play was never documented as it was not considered worthy of doing so. By the 18th Century play was valued. Rousseau believed that children should be able to roam freely and explore the outdoors ready to learn and read through play. He believed that children looked at play and work as a whole and that children should play as a right for it showed their potential. In 1998, Saracho and Spodek (2007, p23) describe two approaches to play in the 19th and 20th centuries; classical and modern dynamic. The classical theories were to explain the reason that play existed. The reasons being: - The relaxation theory in which individuals recharge energy that they exhaust in work. Therefore play is relaxation and a source of energy before beginning work again. - The surplus energy theory, in contrast to the relaxation theory, viewed play as a means of eliminating excess energy. Play therefore was regarded as an instinctive behaviour with no immediate goal. Herbert Spencer’s theory was heavily inﬂuenced by the work of Schiller. - Play as pre-exercise. According to this perspective play is an instinctive way of preparing children for adult life. Play experiences are similar to those they will experience as adults, and therefore children are rehearsing adult skills in their play. Groos adopted this view in the late nineteenth century, he believed play was functional and characterised by undeﬁned activity, pleasure and dominated by process rather than product. He believed that experimental play developed mental skills and self-control, and imitative play developed inter-personal skills. In contrast to the classical theories, the modern perspectives have a different view on the context of play. The theorists central to these perspectives are Freud, Piaget and Vygotsky. McLeod (2009) states that Piaget believed children’s knowledge was increased through engaging with the environment. He studied play primarily from a cognitive viewpoint. From Piaget’s perspective, learning takes place through two processes, these being ‘assimilation’ and ‘accommodation’. Assimilation is when new knowledge is accepted from the world and accommodation is adapting this new information to make links with previously developed understanding or schemas. Piaget believed that learning is a continuing process of adaptation to the environment. Piaget viewed the child’s development as...
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