The Importance of Play in Preschoolers.
The role of play in a child's social, cognitive and physical growth is an integral part of development. Playtime helps a child establish a sense of self, how to interact with other children, how to role play and problem solve; the necessary norms of acceptable behavior in society. Researcher Mildred Parten (1932) suggested there were two categories of play; functional and constructive. The aspects of play Parten defined as; parallel, onlooker, associative and cooperative play. Cultural factors also contribute to differences in styles of play. (Feldman, 2014).
During functional play, children use toys or objects according to their intended function. A child can pretend to give a doll a bottle, like her mother feeds her baby brother or a car can be driven on the floor. Children choose this activity to entertain themselves and look for new ways to discover uses for a toy. Typically, the play is repetitive and requires movement. This play strengthens pre-literacy skills. While brain synapses connect through processing and thinking. Gross and fine motor skills are refined through play activity. (Feldman, 2014).
Constructive play encourages children to experiment with objects. They discover combinations of items they can stack, build, draw, make music or construct. Children might turn a cardboard box into a house, couch pillows into a fort, or a sandbox can be a city with cars. Cognitive development is learned and reinforced by manipulation, building and fitting things together because it encourages a child to figure out how to make things work. Whether it is a block tower that won't stand up or a sand castle that keeps falling down, a child's mind blossoms and grows. Through play, children feel a sense of accomplishment and control of their environment. (Feldman, 2014).
Parallel play occurs when two three-year-olds are in a room together, playing side by side in their own little world.