How do Children Learn the Best?
Philosophies on Education
Benefits of Play for Cognitive Development
Children's play has many scientific models to describe it and help adults understand the cognitive development that occurs during the different stages of play. There are also an abundance of theories on child learning. Much can be debated about these models, but a model is mere scientific reasoning designed to help humans and scientist explain and observe a very complex phenomenon. So it stands to reason that no model is absolutely correct -- or incorrect. Educators should take into account all the different cognitive abilities of each and every child. There is a lot of research that suggests that play is educational. So educators and parents it would be beneficial to our children if we find ways to implement play into learning, both home and school.
There are several ongoing theories about children's play and its influence on development. Two of the leading theories are Garner's theory Multiple Intelligences, Parten's Stages of Social Play, and Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development and Stages of play. By applying the findings of these theories, parents and educators could maximize a child's learning potential.
In order to maximize every child's ability we must first diversify our curriculum to include an array of activities that promote all of the multiple intelligences as theorized by Howard Garner. Garner's eight types of intelligence are: musical; bodily kinesthetic;logical-mathematical;linguistic;spatial;interpersonal;intrapersonal; and naturalist. These multiple intelligences should be viewed by educators not as if some students will have strengths within the curriculum, but rather all kids have strengths that can be used as windows to teach all curriculum. For instance, a child that struggles in writing, but is strong mathematically could be given puzzles to complete sentences. In any instance educators must find ways to reach all children with a variety of activities. Every child has a learning strength and it is our job to find it.
How do we learn to be sociable? How do we learn to make friends? Are there books on the subjects for toddlers? No it appear it is learned in play. Social development and some cognitive development is rooted in play with other children. Much is learned from observing adults, but the rules of play are dictated by their peers. Just because adults interfere, doesn't mean the children understand the concepts of sharing, or being nice. They have a def ear towards our rules and usually abide by their own which is based on their cognitive development. So I ponder why we don't allow more group play and games to be incorporated in our curriculum. It may be "crazy" but let them play roles even as teachers with guidance to actually teach their peers certain aspects of things. Let them play scientist! Children in primary grades could have science groups that have a group leader or a directed format to play scientist. The first third grade newspaper could be published with all types of roles played and learning acquired. But what would be targeted is students teaching other students, and no child would be without an important role. The main aspect of I took away from Parten's model of social play is that as educators we should incorporate social play in a directed form in our curriculum.
Piaget's greatest contribution to educators is that he created a baseline of cognitive development based on the play habits of children. To educators this can be used as a scope for which to observe the cognitive abilities of pupils. Also as an educator it allows us to open our minds to curriculum that suits every cognitive stage. I will focus on the cooperative stage of play. This is a time when we can let kids teach kids. As mentioned before kids are of different intelligences(Garner) and of different cognitive abilities. Building neuron connections is our job as educators, so we must maximize both play incorporated with learning. To do this we find the children with strong intelligences in different subjects ,and in their own strengths, in group play allow them to play teacher guided by the text or the educator. This builds leadership in each child and allows them to gain confidence in skills they are strong suited for, and learn from students the things they are not so strong on. The basic guideline is that children have socially developed at this point to an extent that they can learn from peers much easier then adults. Adults just have to guide the role play, and let their imaginations run wild, As educators it is important to grasp as aspects of development, but to incorporate them takes special individuals ready to take on the challenges of our future.
Learn more about multiple intelligences
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