Everytime I meet Lonu, I got to play teacher-student or holiday at house. "Get ready. Brush. Wear Lehenga Chunni. Lipstick." These are the instructions she gives me to enact in a play situation. Sometimes, when we play the school situation, I get to bathe, wear my dress, comb my hair, spend whole time at getting ready. Getting ready itself is the play, the school situation is left out.
At times, when we are at school and Lonu catches me sitting alone. She insists to play the teacher-student. She picks up the marker, scribbles a lot, and demands me to note down. "Book bandh karo. Chutti Hogaya. Awaz nahi karna." She instructs a lot and we need to follow her instruction due diligently.
Where did she learn all these situations and dialogues, I reflected. She imitates her mom and the situations she witness whenever she visits school. How does play help in her thinking, learning, I thought.
Pallavi suggested Vygotsky's theory, a theory on how humans learn.
"Vygotsky's sociocultural theory views human development as a socially mediated process in which children acquire their cultural values, beliefs, and problem-solving strategies through collaborative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society. Vygotsky's theory is comprised of concepts such as culture-specific tools, private speech, and the Zone of Proximal Development."
Interested more in child-play, social situations, I read further and landed upon a document, "Supporting Young Children’s Learning in a Dramatic Play Environment" by Janine Hostettler Scharer.
In this document, the author has discussed about how play develops and helps in child learning. Many times, I hear parent's complaints about their five-year-old kid, "She always plays. Doesn't sit to study at all." I wonder why parents are worried about children playing. If they begin to study from age five, when would they play. For heaven sake, let children play, I used to think, even though, I had no idea, what's the behind thought on play.
When children are around 3 years old, they develop a strong interest in the world of adults, and they want to become a part of this world. Because this desire cannot be fulfilled directly (i.e., children cannot become a firefighter or a doctor), they enter the world of adults through imitation and exploration of social relationships through dramatic play (Karpov, 2003).
How play develops?
The roots of play lie in object-oriented activities of toddlers. During manipulative situations, children explore an object’s physical properties and how they are used. Later, when children use everyday objects in imaginary situations, play emerges (Bodrova & Leong, 2007)
There's a lot that happens during the play. Children begin to process out the real-life situations, manipulate them, relate to the symbolic Most of the times, through action, children make meaning.
Till how long does this play occur?
Children start to plan their play and set goals before they begin playing. Language becomes more important, and children can switch between their role and giving instructions. More and more roles and rules appear in one play situation, and more children can participate in the same play scenario. At the end of preschool and beginning of primary school, children start to only talk about their play and stop acting it out; time is spent negotiating roles and rules. Play as a leading activity of preschool starts to die out (Gajdamaschko, 2011) and is replaced by the learning activity (Kravtsov & Kravtsova, 2010).
Importance of play
Play creates a zone of proximal development of the child. In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behaviour; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development. (p. 102)
There's a lot that goes behind the play. There are questions like, how much adult interference is needed during the play situations? Can we join the play and observe the children or stay outside the play and observe their actions. What kind of dialogue can help to enrich the play. How much instruction should be given in the play. Most of the teachers parents would cry about completing the curriculum or academic work. How to balance it out? A lot to reflect on and study. Will keep searching for the answers because, staying in the questions is fun rather than finding the answers.