Young Childrens Learning and Development The Role Of Play

Our understanding of child development and learning is facilitated by the theories of two psychologists pivotal to this field, Piaget and Vygotsky (Lloyd and Fernyhough 1999). Vygotsky found somewhat wider support probably due to his focus on sociocultural aspect and proximal development (Woolfolk 2004). He is sympathetic and affectionate towards youngsters and favour adults’ guidance and hints in solving problem while Piaget finds child not yet ready for solving problems mentally if he can not do so all by himself. The article also caution educators/practitioners who rely on guidelines alone while evaluating young child’s learning.

Melhuish &amp. Moss (1991) observed that play develops in the stages in first three years of life. It begins as nonspecific manipulation for young infant and becomes creative in the end of third year. According to the Piaget model practice play is the first to appear and is dominant during first 18 months of age. It involves repetition of well-established sequences of actions and manipulations. Not for practical or instrumental purpose but for mere pleasure derived from motor activity. Piaget says that play arise from almost all sensorimotor schemes acquired by the child and centers mainly on the child’s use of the object (Lloyd &amp. Fernyhough 1999).
Around one year, these practice exercise transform. The child passes from mere repetition to purposive combinations of actions and manipulations. The child sets definite goals and practice games are transformed into constructions.
The symbolic play begins during second year of life with the onset of representation and language. Pretend play is solitary symbolic play while dramatic play involves multiple symbols, which does not appear until later part of third year. In fact it was Smilansky (1968) who emphasised and added the constructive play and social dimension to Piagetian model. He stated that constructive play is not a pretense while in sociodramatic play the child pretend to be someone, say, A doctor, mother etc. The Piagetian model of pretense play shows decontexualised behaviour viz. doing eating, sleeping in void or shifts from self to other references viz. In place of putting self to sleep making a toy/doll go to sleep, use of substitute object e.g. using chair for a doll, sequential combination instead of a single action viz. the child construct a whole scene in make believe. The psychology of symbolic play, according to Piaget, is to achieve fantasy satisfaction through compensation, wish fulfillment, liquidation of conflicts etc. to assimilate external reality to ego (Piaget 1962. Nicolopoulou 1999). As the child grows the reality overtakes ego and symbolic play declines. Play with rules originates at 4-7 years of age and develops upto 11 years. Rules require the interaction between two. There is genuine satisfaction in victory over others which is made legitimate by the rules of game and respect for fair play.
Vygotsky is credited with bringing a sociocultural message central to the development. In the early years of life, the play is a source of proximal development (Lloyd &amp. Fernyhough 1999). It provides an imaginative opportunity for self-empowering internalization of social rules. The voluntary intentions and formation of real life plans and motives all occur in play. During