Play is very significant for the optimum development of children who are in their middle childhood. This is portrayed by the eye opening documentary Lost Adventures of Childhood: The High Price of Hyper-Parenting that shows the high price that many families are paying where the value of playing among children is not comprehended. According to Jones (2010), “for an activity to be regarded as play, it ought to be both voluntary as well as self-organized” (34). Middle childhood refers to a stage as well as a pathway that is significant for future development of a child. Newman (2007) asserts that the developmental markers in middle childhood are categorized into the following broad domains- cognitive, physical, emotional and social development. This essay looks into the role that play has on the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of children during middle childhood.
Physical Development: during the middle childhood stage, this domain entails biological as well as neurophysiological development, the modification of both perceptual and motor skills, along with physical health, together with nutrition and exercise. Children who are of school-age go through rapid spurts in terms of height, weight and progress in athletic capacities. They commence on the inception of puberty at different ages, with girls having an average of 11 years and boys of 13 years, a stage that is marked by hormonal changes, and observable transformations in both physical appearance as well as behavior.
Play is significant in the development of gross motor skills. Children continue building and improving on their gross motor skills during middle childhood. At this phase of development, children develop extensive body movement skills like walking and running, skills that they had initially learnt during their earlier developmental stages. Generally, boys tend to develop these skills relatively faster as compared to girls, excluding skills entailing balance and precise movements like skipping and hopping. This is why the school curriculums provide regular scheduled chances for both exercise and play. The access to physical activities helps in supporting healthy bodies for physical development.
Play also contribute to physical development by enhancing fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are different from the gross motor skills in that they require coordination between the eyes and hands (Jones, 2010, p.54). Girls have a tendency of developing fine motor skills faster in comparison to boys, for instance, middle-childhood children demonstrate dramatic improvements in relation to printed handwriting or drawing.
Cognitive Development: The domain of this stage entails intellectual as well as language development, reasoning capacities, as well as memory abilities. The childhood middle years are characterized by a steady improvement in logical reasoning by use of concrete examples, increased cognizance of memory in addition to learning strategies. In addition children achieve and consolidate significant academic skills like reading, writing, as well as computing.
Play significantly contributes towards the cognitive development of children during middle childhood. Generally, middle childhood play nurture the cognitive development of children. During this stage, children exercise the executive skills while planning pretense scripts by use of symbols in games and organizing games that are governed by rules. For instance, during construction of play with blocks, tentative manipulation precedes the ability to the creation of new forms. The three dimensional construction assist older children in the development of visual spatial imagery which supports the learning of both mathematics as well as sciences. Humor is as well evident in the middle childhood play, even though some is “non-sense” humor entailing cognitive incongruity that illustrate what children know.
Emotional and social development: the emotional domain entails personality, inspiration, emotional development, as well as self-esteem. Children who are of school-age obtain individual competencies by means of participating in activities such as academic, athletic or artistic, or emotional attachments to their family members. In addition, they develop a deep sense of who they are as well as what they intend to attain in life by means of critical efforts and commitments. On the part of social development, the domain entails social skills along with interpersonal understanding, maintenance of close relationships, and ethical development. Children improve reciprocal understandings of other people through both the family as well as peer interactions, developing same-sex friendships, and searching fairness in their peer groups.
Play is significant in the emotional and social development of children during their middle childhood. According to Newman (2007), children practice their abilities to self-direct, self-organize, as well as negotiate with others. Such types of experiences help in building confidence in accepting immediate gratification, persevering, in addition to collaborating. Even during instances when play deals with themes that are hurtful, the intrinsic motivation of children makes sure that the play serves an enjoyable and meaningful purposes for those who are playing. For instance, role playing or aggression can be significant in helping children in dealing with the reality associated with such issues. Organized games that are accompanied by rules are common during the middle childhood. Benefits in perspective taking permits children to comprehend the roles of different players during a game in addition to permitting the transition towards rule-oriented games. Taking part in organized games assists children in forming more mature concepts in relation to both fairness and justice.
In conclusion, play is a very imperative aspect amongst children during their middle childhood. It is helpful in the development physical, cognitive, and social skills. Nevertheless, environmental factors such entertainment like music and watching of films makes it harder for the contemporary children to concentrate on playing in comparison to their parents who had enough play during their days. It is therefore the responsibility of the parents as well as teachers to ensure that the children have adequate play time for physical, cognitive, emotional and social development.