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Play Personal Philosophy

The meaning of play through the lifetime is now acknowledged by many researchers and organizations. In the past, only children were concentrated on the emphasis of play and its benefits. Today, more and more research suggests that for teenagers, young adults, and even middle-aged adults, play is also beneficial. This paper will address my lifelong personal philosophy of playing. Instead of the socio-cultural dimensions and communicative sense of play, it would mainly concentrate on the individual aspects of play, such as what educators and psychologists would typically concentrate on. It would delve into what I deem to be values and benefits of play across the lifespan, with examples from my personal life and from relevant research. It will also discuss how different elements of play can benefit children and adolescents in their adult life. There will also be suggestions on the different ways that elements of society, ranging from individuals, families, to whole communities can support play in its various forms, and how I can contribute to advocate play in various aspects of life to develop well-rounded and holistic individuals.
Play Across the Lifespan
Going through this course and various readings, I now realize that play has different facets. In a way, I now see a three-dimensional view of play. I agree with Fromberg and Bergen (2015) when they said that �play interacts with, parallels, represents, and integrates physical, social, emotional, aesthetic, scientific, and cognitive experiences. The nature, purpose, and motivation of play changes over the course of a person�s development. Play does not end at a particular age but continues to emerge in various forms during a person�s life span. Play increases in complexity within integrated developmental domains. Different theorists all have developed descriptions of play development in specific domains. Piaget felt that play has a primary role in the child�s development, but he did not emphasize play as a factor in a child�s social environment (Frost et al, 2008). For instance, in my own life, I used to love doing pretend play from the age of 4 to 7 years old. I used to pretend that I was one of the following: superhero, doctor, supermarket cashier, and chef. I preferred �pretend playing� alone when I was about 4 years old, but as I grew older and I went to school, I wanted to play pretend with my new-found friends and classmates. I found fellow �pretenders� in classmates Joshua and Mikayla, who eventually became my best friends throughout my elementary years. When we grew older, we eventually got tired of doing pretend play and developed to more sophisticated forms of pretend play. Now, I still play with my best friends, and other like-minded people that I met along the way, and we love to do role playing games online and offline. In terms of pretend play, I find that as I grow older, the relationships among fantasy, creativity, and irrationality become more clearly defined (Fromberg & Bergen, 2015).
For the first few years of life, play is described through age-related developmental stages � parallel play, solitary play, constructive, games with rules, etc. Starting with infants, play is seen more as exploratory, manipulative, and functional. Whenever I see babies play, I always see them manipulate little objects in their small fingers, or put objects in their mouths. Fromberg and Bergen (2015) categorize infant play into object play, motor play, and social play. In young children, play is intrinsic, natural and effortless. My earliest memories as a young child all involve play � playing with blocks, with game cards, with various educational toys, cars, and even dolls. Fromberg and Bergen (2015) states that young children�s play may be characterized by the following descriptions: symbolic, meaningful, active, pleasurable, voluntary and intrinsically motivated, rule-governed, and episodic. Children from 4 to 8 years� play are important because it involves a transition from staying at home to being a young student in school. Children�s play at around this age increasing becomes more sophisticated, with more emphasis on manipulative and constructive play, literacy play, creative play, and media and digital play.
Play should not be left behind in the middle childhood years, between 9 to 13 years old. Sometimes, adults place too much emphasis on a child�s school work or development of new skills that they don�t realize that play still plays a vital role for children at this age. Fromberg and Bergen (2015) discusses how play has changed for children of this age group, as they are constantly provided with and exposed to virtual, technology-enhanced play. Adults play a huge role in guiding these children to develop social and emotional competence, affiliation, cognitive development, and imagination and creativity.
As people grow older, play is often seen as a leisure activity, and while certain activities remain the same, the motivation for doing the activity changes. For example, as a very young child of 4 to 5 years, I loved playing basketball. My main motivation for playing basketball then was because it was fun, and I really enjoyed. I still enjoyed playing basketball when I was about 10 to 11 years old, but as I remember, my motivation for playing has changed. I played basketball when I was 11 years old because I wanted to emulate my favorite NBA stars. On the other hand, I see adults of around 38 years old to 45 years old in my life playing basketball because they want to be fit and healthy.
Benefits of Play
Play contributes in developing a child�s social development. Developmental theorist Jean Piaget�s major contribution is his conclusion that play helped children understand that other children have different perspectives. For Piaget, play gives children opportunities to develop social skills via ongoing interactions with other children. This paved the way for Vygotsky�s sociocultural theory, because he believed that play in the preschool years is vital for the acquisition of social and cognitive competence (Frost et al, 2008).
Very much connected to social skills is another benefit of play, which is a developmentally appropriate means of communication. When people of all ages engage in play, they also learn other forms of communication that is important in life such as negotiation, compromise, and encouragement. Homeyer and Morrison (2008) discusses Jean Piaget�s view that play provides the child with �live, dynamic, language indispensable for the expression of a child�s subjective feelings.
Aside from developing social skills, I believe that one particular type of play, and my personal favorite, make-believe play is important in facilitating understanding of one�s role in society and integrating social norms. Make-believe play with other children has taught me how to place myself in a social context, how to assume existing cultural roles, and adjusting to various personalities by using accepted social norms. This is what developmental theorist Erikson studied � that there is a relationship between make-believe play and wider society. In Frost et al (2008), it goes on further to say that Erikson believes that make-believe permits children to learn about their social world and to try out new social skills. Vygotsky also supports the importance of make-believe play because he says in Frost et al (2008) that make-believe play allows children to start an imaginary situation and follow rules in order to play out that particular situation. Vygotsky further believes that imaginary situations formulated by children follow certain social rules, so through make-believe, they have an understanding of social norms and expectations of society. In role-playing, a form of make-believe play, children are provided with the ability to try on different roles and empathize with the feelings of others. Fantasy play, which older children and teenagers still do through RPG, gives people a sense of power and mastery that is not possible in their real world. This results in the ability to regulate affect, reduce aggression, and generate positive feelings (Homeyer & Morrison, 2008).
All throughout the life span, varied forms of play also simulate real life. Play in many different life stages is seen as a �workshop for life�, or a practice run. Other play types constitute an escape from reality, which is beneficial for adult play as they attempt to get away from the pressures and responsibilities of work and family life.
Advocating Play
Now that I recognize and understand the benefits and value of play, advocating play is now easier, and for my part, the guilt of �just playing� is now removed. As I grow older, I realize that play must be a purposeful activity. However, I shouldn�t just concentrate too much on the purpose of the activity that I don�t have fun in the process. I believe that play and work are so intertwined and inter-connected that there shouldn�t be much of a delineation between them. Just as young children see �play� as work, I believe that adults and older teenagers should also see it as such. The personal challenge for me now is how I could integrate play into everyday life, so that there is no delineation between �just playing and wasting time� and �serious work�.
Conclusion
One of the best benefits of play in my life, and as I envision it, in the life of others is its capacity to improve the overall quality of life of an individual. Once seen as a trivial and time-consuming endeavor, I have realized that play is essential if I want to maintain sanity in this fast-paced and stressful world, a source of relaxation and stimulation. I intend to keep play a significant part of my life until I�m well into my adult years. I believe that maintaining play in your life will assist in rejuvenating and improving relationships and make us feel young and energetic. Play should also be quantified properly � it is not merely zoning out in front of a computer, but it includes engagement with others, collaboration, problem-solving, and socio-emotional skill building.

References
Fromberg, D. P. & Bergen, D., eds. (2015). Play from Birth to Twelve � contexts,

perspectives, and meanings. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis.

Frost, J.L, Wortham, S.C., & Reifel, S., excerpt (2008.) Play and child development.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall. Retrieved from

www.education.com/reference/aticle/play-social-emotional-development/

Homeyer, L.E. & Morrison, M.O. (2008). Play therapy: practices, issues, and trends.

eric.ed.gov. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1069021.pdf

September 11, 2021

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