Children’s Play Observations
It is possible to learn much being a keen observer of human behavior. To describe a particular group of people or the type of behavior, the method of observation is highly useful. It is a technique, using which a person observes people’s actions and records his/her impressions. One can use this method to study the behavior of children. The playground is the best place for this since behavior and games of children reflect cultural values and their ability to socialize. To write the current paper, I visited a playground in the nearby area. As it is located in the park, there are always many children in the location.
When I was on the playground, there were about seven children. The majority of them were of the similar age – about four-five years old. However, one child was slightly older – about seven years old and two children were younger than the others. I noticed that the younger children were slow to join the rest of the group and mainly played alone. Child psychologists claim that up to three years old, a child does not need the company very much (Kuhaneck, Spitzer & Miller, 2010). Nonetheless, after three years old, it is important for a child to learn how to communicate with peers, play, and interact with them (Kuhaneck, Spitzer & Miller, 2010). As the majority of children were of this age, they all played together.
During my observation, children played role-playing games using various objects. Curiosity about objects and their usage is an extremely fascinating motive of the game, which is a natural game model. In the case of children on the playground, such objects as toys became important objects for games. At this age, toys correspond with pronounced individual characteristics. Therefore, children constantly use them for role-playing games.
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On the playground, the children played a school game. They imitated as they were in the class. The oldest child was a teacher and the rest of them, as well as their toys, were students. Significantly, boys and girls played together. The teacher put marks, told students about animals, and led a lesson in physical education. He also told students how they could play during the break. Thus, the oldest child taught the rest how to behave and act. However, after several unsatisfactory marks, several children were offended and did not want to play with the others. Later, they separated from the group and began to play another game.
In general, this observation allowed me to make certain conclusions. Firstly, such role-playing games develop imagination of children, which is one of the most basic abilities of a person. It allows both adults and children to create fictional realities and explore them without leaving the real world. At the age of 5-6 years old, children start playing by attracting their imagination (Alloway, 2012). They naturally and organically move between fiction and reality. Usually, it is more important to adults to determine fiction and reality as they look or listen to something. At the same time, it is not that significant for a child who is involved in imaginary adventures. In the process of life, imagination remains an essential element of creativity and moral stability (Alloway, 2012). Fantasy is one of the most important keys to the development of trust, empathy, and understanding, as well as personal adaptive skills.
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The game, which children played on the playground, refers to the social type of interaction. Children start playing social games through parallel actions (Berns, 2012). Two children who were younger did not participate in the game of older children. They just sat next to each other and played with crayons. Although they were aware of each other’s presence, they did not interact with each other emotionally or physically. Despite this fact, such a kind of game is also extremely important as it serves as a bridge to a more active gaming interaction (Berns, 2012). With a parallel game, a child can make contact with a neighbor and start playing together (Berns, 2012). Nevertheless, at the age of children whom I observed, a joint game becomes a test during which empathy towards other children develops. By bringing into the game imaginary elements, children hear what others offer and learn to understand their points of view. It is a good example of socialization. This joint game is the basic state of friendship, which children enter later throughout their lives. General enthusiasm and mutual compromises characterize a healthy joint game (Pellegrini, 2009).
However, quite often children cannot find a common compromise in the game. The same situation happened to the children on the playground when several kids did not want to accept the rules of the game of the older ones and separated from the general group. This fact shows that both children and adults can have the opposite points of view and it is completely normal. Moreover, the fact that several children separated from the larger group shows that they do not want to follow the tastes of the majority when they are in contradiction with something.
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During the game, the oldest child told the rest of the children stories about the animals that his mother had probably told him. Story telling is one of the main ways of understanding. It occupies a highly significant place in the early development and study of the world. The key function of the right hemisphere, which dominates in this process, is constant creation of stories about why things are as they are (Balter & Tamis-LeMonda, 2016). It becomes the basis of the worldview. While children grow, a dramatic effect of stories saturates their interest and the narrative structure shows how everything really is and how things should be in the world (Balter & Tamis-LeMonda, 2016). Moreover, stories remain the main way of understanding in adulthood. People often decide what is wrong or right, constructing the story of events and drawing a conclusion from it. By telling stories, people lose the sense of time, feel pleasure, and are included in the reality of the plot and, therefore, are in the state of the game like children.
To conclude, child and family psychologists frequently use such a method as observation in their work. However, not always a child can say something or complain about certain difficulties. Rather, the adult’s task is to watch the child. Watching a child who plays on the playground is a great way to understand his/her inner world. Moreover, many useful qualities form throughout the game. Every game can become a road to a new “I”. It refers to the fact that during the game children apply new thoughts and models of behaviors. Thus, it frees them from the established models. For children who are constantly in the process of developing and changing, the game is an inseparable manifestation of socialization. It is important to remember that the game is the first stage of the organization of children. It develops a child physically, morally, and mentally. It also reveals child’s creativity. Therefore, children should spend much time playing games on the playground to develop all necessary qualities that will be helpful in the future.