Play is commonly understood as an activity performed by children for the purpose of self-amusement, despite the fact that the term play is far more didactic than just an activity, and cannot be conceptualised by a single idea. Children require prospects for unstructured and structured play, in order to advance the development of social and creative skills. Play is an essential medium that enables children to develop new skills. The freedom enabled by play allows limitless experimentation of the objects in a learning environment. This idea is further exemplified in the play scenario, where a small group of children aged four to five years are engaged in a group activity in the block corner. The scenario exhibits play in a number of variations. The activity in the scenario prompts creative thinking, whilst also presenting forms of social play that enable social skills to be formed amongst the children. Through analysis of the collaboration amongst the group, there is evidence of creativity and communication, revealing progress in their social development. The didactic value of the play scenario is depicted through creative thinking and social development. This essay will elucidate the importance of play on the development of social and creative skills in early childhood.
Creative thinking is an unrestricted form of self-expression. In early childhood, creative thinking is a skill that is developed through problem solving and imagination. Creative thinking is imperative to the cognitive development of the child, as it is the basis for symbolic thinking. The ability of understanding symbolic transformations is crucial as the skills developed are required for a child’s education in schooling years such as maths and linguistic symbols (Van Hoorn, Monighan Nourot, Scales & Alward, 2019c). Play supports development by permitting children to play via their ideas, similarly to the manner in which adults discuss solutions to problems that they may encounter and through imagining consequences from an array of perceptions (Van Hoorn, Monighan Nourot, Scales & Alward, 2019c).In the play scenario, creative thinking is portrayed through Freya when she discovers cellophane and utilises it by deciding to make her own window. Similarly, Shukla used a basket full of wooden blocks as treasure. The children demonstrated the skill of symbolic transformation by displaying their creative thoughts. Extensive research demonstrates that play is vital to the development of symbolic thinking, language and social development, reasonable-mathematical thinking, and problem-solving by children (Van Hoorn, Monighan Nourot, Scales & Alward, 2019c). There is ample evidence supporting play regarding the encouragement of imagination and creativity, although, in recent years, it has come to light that this component has in some occasions been ignored in the curriculum (Van Hoorn, Monighan Nourot, Scales & Alward, 2019c).
Pretend play fosters cognitive and adaptive processes that are vital for the development of creativity (Saracho, 2002). Divergent thought is an essential human cognitive ability, that supports the development of multiple ideas and opportunities to solve problems. In the play scenario, a dilemma arises regarding how to secure the cellophane in place. The children collaboratively think of ideas to secure the cellophane. Lin suggests that they glue it, although Guo Jin brings to his attention that the glue has a permanent nature of sticking, then Thale discusses the idea of using sticky tape. Play activities that are inclusive of collaborative activities further enrich the diversity and intensity of the play forms. Dramatic play encourages children to observe the range of roles in society and value them. It can also give them endless opportunities to learn social skills. Children progressively learn to take into account the needs of each other via dramatic play and share their different values and perspectives. This is exemplified in the exchange between Shukla and Craig, Shukla strategically places the basket full of blocks in the centre of the light pattern on the floor, Craig asked her to move it although Shukla explains her perspective to him and eventually, the children continued participating in pretend play. Craig displayed progress into considering the needs and perspectives of others during play.