Whenever children say ‘let’s pretend’, a new landscape of possibilities is revealed. When children pretend, they try on new feelings, roles and ideas. They stretch their minds along with their imagination. – Curtis & Carter.
I am a doctor now… Let’s play teacher…. and so on.. the role plays continues. These conversations as so typically heard among children everywhere, especially during the early childhood years. Pretend play or role play, all of it means the same. Researchers believe that pretend play helps in the development of cognitive and social abilities.
Psychologist Sandra Russ (2004) identified a number of different cognitive and affective processes that are associated with pretend play. The research reviewed by Berk, Mann & Ogan, (2006) and Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer (2009) suggest that make-believe games are forerunners of the important capacity for forms of self-regulation including reduced aggression, delay of gratification, civility, and empathy.
An important benefit of early pretend play may be its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and, ultimately, creativity (Russ, 2004; Singer & Singer, 2005). Studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives.
Parents and teachers can encourage pretend play by keeping in mind Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding. According Bodorva 2008, who used the Tools of the mind Curriculum, which is based on Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding proves that cognitive control can be achieved if teachers complex make-believe play, guiding children in jointly planning of play scenarios before enacting them. Teachers also lead rule-switching games in which regular movement patterns shift often, requiring flexibility of attention.
To be continued…
By Dr Srividya K
‘Let all the lessons of young children take the form of doing rather than talking, let them learn nothing from books that they can learn from experience’ – Rousseau
In the last blog I had mentioned that the attitudes of philosophers towards the concept of play took over a new meaning during the “romantic movement”. Before I delve more about play, there is a need to understand the meaning of the words “romantic movement”, and what exactly happened in the 18th century to term that period as romantic era or movement. Literature review suggests that the pre -romantic period had set rules for people on the basis of which they had to think, feel and behave. people were expected to use reason over emotion, senses over intellect, and so on. The romantic movement was a backlash against the forms and conventions of the society. Romanticism was concerned with living an unrestrained life. Restrain was placed in the field of art, literature and in general on the society. An artist could never draw or paint whatever he wanted, everything had to be very presentable. Literature gave little scope for feelings and imagination. Using reason was the main criteria, so romanticism came out of all these restraints and fought for a more liberal society. Its not only the people in the field of art or literature started thinking liberally, but also philosophers from various fields of expertise. It is at this time that philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Friedrich von Schiller, Jean Jack Rousseau and Johanna Pestalozzi brought play into fore and valued it.
Kant believed that play for adults helped in enhancing higher thought and imagination, which gave way to thirsting for more knowledge. Kant looked at play from cognitive perspective and never linked it to activities. For Kant play meant “playing within the mind –that is imagination” which was more for adults than for children. In the late 18th century the role of play in human experience took a big leap with Schiller identifying the play as an integral part of human life. Schiller’s philosophy of play was concerned to human beings in general and not just for children. According to Schiller, “play is an expenditure of exuberant energy”. Schiller believed, human beings have to work to survive, work consumes human energy, and if there is any energy remaining, that energy is dedicated to play. Schiller says “human beings use play for exploring creativity, for transcending the reality of life in work. This makes play a symbolic activity”.
Philosophies of play emerged during this era, but failed to explain or describe the actual play of children. Jean Jacques Rousseau, Johann Heinrich Pesralozzi and Friedrich Frobel, were the first philosophers to explain play exclusively in relation to children. Let’s delve more into their philosophies in the next blog.