Theories About Play in Early Childhood Education

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” While this ancient proverb may seem trite or cliche to modern scholars, it still holds true when discussing children and play.

Greek Philosophers Plato and Aristotle discussed the role of play in education, but specific play theories were not developed until centuries later.

The following discussion of a few modern psychological theories and theorists describes the current trends put into “play” in today’s educational settings.

Play as Therapy

In 1920, Sigmund Freud posed a psychoanalytic play theory that was defined in his book “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.”

In this work, Freud described play as a child’s mechanism for repeatedly working out a previously experienced traumatic event in an effort to correct or master the event to his satisfaction.

Play as Rehearsal

In 1972, Bruner stated that one of the main functions of child’s play was to rehearse actions to various real-life scenarios in a safe, risk-free environment so that when confronted with a difficult situation, it would not be so stressful.

Play as Preparation

John Dewey was a prominent theorist in the early 1900s. According to Dewey, play is a subconscious activity that helps an individual develop both mentally and socially. It should be separate from work as play helps a child to grow into a working world.

As children become adults, they no longer “play” but seek amusement from their occupation. This childhood activity of play prepares them to become healthy working adults.

Play as Sensory Learning

Maria Montessori, an Italian educationist during the early 1900s, postulated that “play is the child’s work.” According to the Montessori method, which is still employed today in private schools, children would be best served spending their play time learning or imagining.

Montessori play is sensory, using a hands-on approach to everyday tools like sand tables. The child sets her own pace, and the teacher is collaborative in helping the child play to learn.Play as Intellectual Development

Jean Piaget is most noted for introducing the stages of child development. These stages directly relate to play, as he stated that intellectual growth occurs as children go through the stages of assimilation, or manipulating the outside world to meet one’s own needs–playacting–and accommodation, or readjusting one’s own views to meet the needs of the outside environment, or work.

Play as Social Development

Lev Vygotsky suggested that children will use play as a means to grow socially. In play, they encounter others and learn to interact using language and role-play. Vygotsy is most noted for introducing the ZPD, or zone of proximal development.

This suggests that while children need their peers or playmates to grow, they need adult interaction as they master each social skill and are ready to be introduced to new learning for growth.

Relevant Posts

  • How To Learn Study Techniques
    Learning to study is probably the most important skill you need to succeed in school. The details of studying are different for different subjects, but the basic process is the same. It starts with...
  • Gerontology Colleges
    Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging and focuses on the physical, mental and social changes of people as they grow older. Various colleges and unive...
  • The Silver and Black’s Offense
    American Football American football is a popular team sport first played on November 6, 1869. It is a form of gridiron football like Canadian football – another famous sport in North America. A...
  • Careers for International Studies Majors
    Students who major in international studies in college have a world of career options open to them. They can work for governments, humanitarian organizations or multi-national companies. Stu...
  • Top Academic Colleges in the Country
    U.S. News and World Report publishes an annual list of Best Colleges, categorizing them in lists such as Best National Universities (schools that offer a full range of undergraduate degrees as well as...
  • Insight into the Top Essential Qualities of a Business Visionary
    Business visionaries, leaders, and organizational experts need to have some of the essential qualities, to be able to nurture a business successfully. It’s All about Adapting to Changes In the f...

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.