Children have a natural inclination to play, alongside a natural instinct to learn and to be curious and inventive, which are characteristics of the human race in general. This quote taken from Janet Moyles is a good starting point for this essay. It is well known that children love to play. If a child were to be left to his/her own devices they would happily play and create new worlds anywhere they were left. It has been well documented and researched that children learn excellently through play. However they are not always given the opportunity to do so, instead being told to, ‘finish your work and then you can go play’. Obviously this is not always the case, but the fact that it is a common practice shows that we do not all fully
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Now I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, but if I had been there from the beginning the children would have got a much more structured and themed training session. It all comes down to what your aim for a child is. My goal was to train the children to be the best they could be at that particular sport. The same could be said for children growing up. Usually the teacher has some sort of goal that they want the children to achieve before the end of the day. In this case how does the teacher direct the child towards the learning objective without limiting the natural learning potential of the child? Vygotsky argues that a useful way to help a student who is having difficulties is to direct their attention to the key features of the task and prompt them in ways that will facilitate their understanding. Bruner has used the metaphor of scaffolding to refer to Vygotsky’s view of this kind of teacher support (Smith and Cowie, 1991).
For very young children this type of structured play is not always the best method of learning. This is where Julie Fishers’ statement of children ‘being active’ is useful. While you still give the child some sort of structure in the types of toys you give them and the areas in which they play with these toys, you do not necessarily lead them on any particular path with regards to