Piaget (1962) described play as imitating and practicing behaviors, oftentimes associated with symbolic . Play happens through the assimilation of facts, events or behaviors, or through the distortion of reality, in order to put reality back together. Sometimes child play involves the representation of an absent object or person, as if it, or they, were present, and can also include elements of "higher play" such as games with rules and regulations. In many cultural groups, studies have shown that the earliest form of childhood play combines imitation and practice, whereby sensory and motor skills are developed within the first twenty-four months of age. It is easy to imagine an infant copying the movement and sounds of his mother, or of a pet, as the child begins to undertake the great task of "fitting in" to his or her social and cultural surroundings.
Fein (1981) states that symbolic or "pretending" tends to emerge in children around the age of two. From there, in most societies, children move on to social play, where they begin to interact with other children. Examples of social play include cooperative social pretend play such as "sharing" a toy or a game. Howes (1985) states that the use of symbolic is one of the most powerful aspects of shared social play.
[...] In cultural situations where children had reduced play time, or where play was highly discouraged, there was a correlation of lower developments of social skills and relationship development tools. Studies also suggest that the absence of play can lead to increased emotional trauma and disturbances. Moreover, findings from research on children that were forced into work environments at an early age showed decreased brain activity for important neurological connections critical to learning and social behavior. This research contributes to the belief that regardless of cultural differences, play is not a trivial or purposeless behavior, but an imperative one for learning and social interactions. [...]
[...] Play serves many social functions, and works to satisfy the needs and development of social and emotional life skills. It is important that children be socialized, through play, as contributing members of their own culture. This must happen in early childhood education, regardless of the cultural composition of classrooms. Experts recommend that teachers familiarize themselves with play from other cultures, and slowly begin to integrate different models of play into the on-goings of a class. Numerous studies (Creasey, Jarvis, & Berk, 1998; Erikson, 1963; Goleman, 1995; Piaget, 1962; Rubin & Howe, 1986; Rubin, Maioni, & Hormung, 1976; Rubin, Watson, & Jambor, 1978; Sutton-Smith, 1997; Vygotsky, 1978) show that this form of cross-cultural play allows children the opportunity to model their behavior with others. [...]
[...] 1998) Cross-cultural aspects of play and its effects on early childhood development According to commonly held cultural values, different aspects of play will be emphasized in differing cultures. Whereas play is a dynamic process, continually developing to fit the social world view, it is considered an important facilitator for learning and development in children, across the cultural continuum. Furthermore, as children learn how to play and participate in the act of playing, the delve into the very social and cultural contexts in which they live (Christie, 2001; Fromberg 2002; Hughes, 1999). [...]
[...] Learn and Play the Recycled Way: Homemade Toys that Teach. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press. Repetti, R. (1984). "Determinants of Children's Sex Stereotyping: Parental Sex-Role Traits and Television Viewing." Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 10:457–468. Roopnarine, J. L.; Ahmeduzzaman, M.; Hossain, Z.; and Riegraf, N. B. (1992). "Parent-Infant Rough Play: Its Cultural Specificity." Early Education and Development 3:298–311. Roskos, K. A., and Christie, J. F., eds. (2000). Play and Literacy in Early Childhood: Research from Multiple Perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. [...]
[...] "Young Children's Play in Socio- Cultural Context: South Korea and the United States." Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Indianapolis, IN. van Oers, B. (1999). "Teaching Opportunities in Play." In Learning Activity and Development, ed. M. Hedegaard and J. Lompscher. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press. von Klitzing, K.; Kelsay, K.; Emde, R. N.; Robinson, J.; and Schmitz, S. (2000). "Gender-Specific Characteristics of 5-Year Olds' Play Narratives and Associations with Behavior Ratings." Journal of the American Academy [...]
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