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One of the most essential elements of the child’s life is play. It is a very vital element of early childhood program of study and pedagogy. Apart from being a vehicle for learning, play also forms the context in which a child is able to demonstrate his/her own learning as well as assist in scaffolding the erudition of others. Additionally, play has the potential of facilitating a child’s mathematical thinking. This is largely dependent on a teacher’s ability to make the most of the teaching opportunities in a satisfactory manner.
Why Play Matters
In most cases, the glibness in the process of supporting play is able to promote a wide range of mathematical knowledge and understanding. In as much as children’s play can be intricate, it grows and advances over a number of days and weeks. In most cases, mathematics is usually present in much of children’s unprompted play (Bobis et al., 2009).
In this regard, teachers who are cautious to notice this are able to feel competent and comfortable playing with mathematics. This in turn provokes profound understanding among the young children. Consequently, a competent educator ought to be in a position of displaying the dispositions of playfulness, curiosity, creative and critical thinking among children (Andrews & Trafton, 2002).
Being an intrinsically social activity, play facilitates joint meaning making, even as the children try things out. As a result, they are in a position of explaining and performing their points of view and understandings. Additionally, the social interactions provided by the opportunities to play are very instrumental in providing the shore up for challenges children often put up with during play (Bobis et al., 2009). Play also goes a long way in generating opportunities for problem solving, innovation, and risk taking. By and large, such exchanges are vital in underpinning mathematical thinking.
Due to the fact that play provides the context whereby children are able to make connections across experiences and understandings, they are then able to explore opportunities and come up with meanings (Bobis et al., 2009). This is crucial since mathematics is largely associated with understanding connections, procedures, and possibilities. Since it is also about understanding facts, play and mathematics have a lot in common.
The playful activities that children engage themselves in involve ideas, concepts, as well as explorations. In most cases, the mathematical concepts ingrained in early childhood education are vital since they are established to build on the children’s practical understanding and perceptions (Bobis et al., 2009). In as much as play offers no guarantee for the development of mathematics in young children, it however offers rich potentials. In order to make the most of play, educators ought to engage children in reflecting on and representing mathematical ideas that arise during play (Bobis et al., 2009).
According to early educators, a pedagogical collection that is inclusive of play, as well as the consciousness of the connections, provides a great potential for early childhood experiences. This is instrumental in children’s mathematical understandings and dispositions. As a result, a lot is gained from making mathematics play.
Experiences in Early Math, Language, and Development of Social Skills
There is no need for educators and parents to push children to cram information into their heads. Instead, there is the need for making sure that the children have the opportunities to discover information on their own. To assist them, children can be exposed to rich environments and then permitted to freely explore (Kernan, 2007).
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This is because by engaging in play, children are able to take in what they are ready for. As a result, they will be less likely to refuse to go along with learning. Furthermore, they will find a lot of excitement in discovering their own place in the world today. Educators and parents can facilitate the learning of children without discouraging them, or placing obstacles in their way.
Pedagogical Value of Play
Play is very instrumental in nurturing the physical, imaginative, academic, social and emotional development of the child. To the untrained eye, learning in play is not only powerful, but also integrative. By and large, much of the learning takes place without direct teaching. Therefore, play forms an intrinsic value in childhood as well as long term development (Jaret, 1997).
In most cases, play is also instrumental in developing the physical, social, intellectual, and emotional skills, which are very essential in a child’s academic and social life. This means that play paves the way for learning (Bobis et al., 2009). Block building as well as water play are very instrumental in laying a strong foundation for logical mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, as well as cognitive problem solving. Additionally, rough-and-tumble is instrumental in developing social and emotional development and self regulation. This is vital in establishing social competence (Hewes, 2010).
On the whole, play is very important when integrated with learning mathematics since it fosters inventiveness and flexibility in thinking. In most cases, since there is no right or wrong ways of doing things, the possibilities of play are innumerable (Bobis et al., 2009). According to research, there is significant connection between cognitive development and children’s pretend play. Among children, the capacity of pretence, if elaborately developed in socio-dramatic plays a key role in the capacity for abstract and representational thinking. This is vital with regard to learning mathematics among young kindergarten children (Bobis et al., 2009).
The developmental evolution in thinking among children is vital in realistic object in pretend play. This is because as they play, children are able to build upon knowledge by bringing together their thoughts, impressions, and intrusions with experiences as well as opinions (ECA, 2012). They are then able to come up with theories about their world, which they share with one another. By establishing a way of life and a societal world with their age group, children are able to make sense and nonsense in their playful experiences (Tucker, 2010). This leads to competence as well as self-confidence. This results in play being a significant dimension when it comes to early math learning.
Instances of How Children Learn By Playing
The main reason why children are taught mathematics on the abacus before being taught in the classroom is because it establishes a solid foundation upon which mathematics revolves. In most cases, the basics of division, addition, subtraction and multiplication are taught on the colorful tool (Cross et al., 2009). In this way kindergarten children are able to learn about how the concepts operate by the manual movement of the beads. As a result, children are able to learn mathematics even as they play.
Being in the digital age, a lot of educational computer and video games have been designed to teach children some of the basic concepts like strategy, teamwork, and concentration. Additionally, the outdoor games and activities assist children to lead, manage, and achieve goals by means of the abovementioned concepts (SAD, 2010).
It is worth noting that in the cognitive development of a child, not all play is learning, and not all learning is play. Integrating math learning through playing in early childhood is extremely important, effectual, and apposite in the pedagogical development of young children. Learning through playing has been noted to have tremendous potential in play for children’s learning. With the rapid development in the early years in a child’s life, play offers an innate incorporation of learning domains. By and large, integrating social, emotional, and physical learning with cognitive and academic learning is vital in establishing a strong foundation for a child’s future education.