Play is the main activity of preschool children: in the game, the child’s personality blossoms entirely. During the game process, a child’s will, emotions, cognitive processes, and interests interact and cooperate. As a result, positive changes in the personality of the child emerge. Children’s games can be viewed as the driving force for developing basic mental processes such as attention, memory, thinking, imagination, and motor abilities. Moreover, they also model the child’s inclusion in the world of human relations – its socialization. Yogman et al. (2018) state that “play supports the formation of the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with all caregivers that children need to thrive” (p. 1). The child’s desire for harmonious coexistence with the world around us, as well as the formation of the child’s voluntary behavior, depends on the playing process.
The Preoperational stage is based on the process of play because it marks the transition from sensorimotor functions to working with representations. The child learns phenomena and objects through games. According to Berk (2018), “the most obvious change in this stage is an extraordinary increase in representational, or symbolic, activity” (p. 227). Children begin to use symbols and speech, can present objects and images in words, and describe them. Basically, the child uses these objects and images in the game – in the process of imitation.
This is where it is different from the adult play. Adult has their cognitive processes fully developed. Thus, they use playing as a recreational rather than formative activity. For an adult, the process of imitation does not have the same features as for a child – it is more coherent, intentional, and complex. Guirguis (2018) adds that “during play, children learn to interact with one another in ways that are acceptable in social contexts established by society, culture, and history” (p. 45). Adults have already learned these contexts, and they actively incorporate them into their games, while children cannot do that yet. Thus, adults use playing to make interpersonal interactions more varied, while children play to develop their identity and acquire social skills.
Berk, L. E. (2018). Development through the lifespan. Pearson.
Guirguis, R. (2018). Should we let them Play? Three key benefits of play to improve early Childhood Programs. International Journal of Education and Practice, 6(1), 43–49. Web.
Yogman, M., Garner, A., Hutchinson, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). The power of play: A pediatric role in enhancing development in young children. Pediatrics, 142(3). Web.