Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was famous child psychologist from Switzerland. He established new theory for children’s psychological development. In the preface of his book Language and Thought of Child, he wrote: “games are the most important work for early childhood and an important lifestyle for children.” Besides, he also emphasized in many of his works: “children’s awareness and knowledge both come from movement, which is the foundation for the development of thinking.” This shows that “learning by playing” has important significance to early childhood education.
Series of studies on early childhood education focus on analyzing the importance of “playing” to the growth of children. As one of series of studies on early childhood education, this article elaborates that “playing” can stimulate children’s interest, activate imagination and help to improve children’s creativity.
“Playing” is often resisted in schools because the definition of “playing” is always inexplicit. As a matter of fact, we can treat “playing” from many different perspectives, just as there are essential differences between sports activity and barbaric gang fight. Then, what does the word “playing” mean in schools? In most cases, people generally take it as a spontaneous, free, happy and satisfying activity not expected and controlled by others’ instructions. Game is a free activity that brings value to playing. Game has the following characteristics:
| Game is natural and instinctive
Either in environment or culture, all children will play. However, for children in some part of the world, playing has been replaced by various kinds of training to satisfy basic needs for survival. Playing is both a part of the scenery in childhood and a part of growth. Infants don’t need to be taught to play with their toes and adults don’t need to guide infants how to play with building blocks. While building club, producing new ball games or exploring musical instrument, older children will also maintain the instinct of playing.
In science center, the students are experimenting with vehicles and ramp way. They’ve built a ramp way and let the vehicles run along it. After testing each vehicle, the children will spontaneously change the angle of the ramp way, so as to start next more exciting competition.
There is a class discussing healthy food all the time and planning to make buffet breakfast for the class. In group discussion, Vidar suggested to establish a restaurant that sells food like a “real” restaurant. The children gladly accepted the idea; therefore, they started to formulate the menu and place the tables, chairs and cashier desk; they discussed together how to accept orders and how to decorate the dining tables to make it like “real” restaurant. When communicating with each other, they will use different words for different purposes. They negotiated about who will be the manager, who will be the customers, who will handle the accounts and who will take charge of hygiene. Everything was in perfect order.
| Games are repetitive
Repetition is an important characteristic of games in all levels. Through repeated actions, children will blend new knowledge into existing framework of understanding. They need repeated attempts to discover the predictability of things and this is the process of reinforcement of learning.
In mini-blocks for cycle racing, there are a group of children setting up ramp way for racing vehicles every day. Though repeating these tests, they learned about which vehicle ran the fastest, which one ran the slowest, and which one did not go straight. They also learned that if the vehicle is too high, it will fly out of the ramp way. They discovered that when setting up ramp way on blankets, the vehicles will slow down at the bottom; when setting ramp way on uncovered floor, the vehicles will go farther. They formulated a “fair” rule by putting a ruler in front of the vehicles. The teacher recorded their learning process and asked them to share their discoveries with the others. It is exactly reflection and repeated tests that stimulate the students’ interest.
| Games are creative
Games can vivify your imagination. They provide opportunities for creativity. As time goes by, experience will constantly grow and strengthen.
Inspired by a storybook about a child collecting electric wire and other objects to create a movable toy, Aaron also started to think about the technologies regarding nut, bolt, electric wire and vehicle wheel, so as to produce a toy with wheels. He chose some materials and directly started his creative work. Meanwhile, Aaron considered it challenging to fix the wheels and make them move; therefore, he would tinker with his creation every day and try to make the wheels move in a balanced and smooth way.
It’s difficult for children who don’t play today to be competitive in the future. Children really need to know how to play with their parents. However, the repeatability of games is making adults bored, without knowing how to cooperate and play with children. Looking back at the summarization for the lecture “High Quality Companion (3-6) – Games are Learning, Help Children Find the Internal Drive for Learning”, you might be able to redefine your family time. After reading this article, the only thing you need to do is practice and play with children, so as to experience the limitless creativity from the intimate relationship