Friday, August 23, 2013

Children's Play

As my grandson approaches three, I am fascinated by the development phases he is going through. 

Higher-level skills appear to develop in stages. Memory first emerges as a very simple function involving only the hippocampus, the part of the brain that receives and organizes new information.

 Infants as young as two months can recognize when they see something new, as shown by how long they stare at it. A child’s ability to consciously recall information at will does not begin to develop until his or her first birthday, however, and this system must mature during the next few years. 

I know that once he reaches three or four that he will start to remember our interactions with him on his own, he will create his own memories, not those suggested by others. One reason that people typically cannot remember much that happened to them before the age of 3 or 4 is that the parts of the brain necessary for recalling such memories are not “wired” then. The synaptic connections that link the hippocampus to the cerebral cortex have not yet been made. These connections become circuits as your child enters preschool. 

Meanwhile, other parts of the brain, notably the prefrontal cortex, are also developing. This enables a growing child both to understand why it is important to remember certain things and to develop tricks and strategies for recalling those things.

Three-year-old engage in more and more elaborate imaginative play. then they do as two year old's. Children at three will whip up entire make-believe scenarios with characters and events in abundance. Tricycles become cars, ambulances, motorcycles, and fire engines—complete with the appropriate noises. Simple cardboard boxes become cars, boats, trains, houses, tunnels, caves, puppet theaters, and castles. A child will love it if mom helps them construct tents and playhouses by draping blankets over chairs or tables.

When children get together with one or more three-year-olds, chances are that they'll spend at least some of their time playing house: whipping up meals, putting the "baby" to bed, and so on. 

Playing house allows every child to play roles that they've observed a lot over the years. It also gives them a chance to rehearse social interaction in a cooperative way, practice that will enhance their building of "real" friendships outside the playhouse.

In play acting, young children will imitate adult behavior, but you will notice a difference between this and fantasy play at age two. The child is no longer merely mimicking adults, but rather role-playing: inhabiting a persona and making it real. 

Play acting now is not just a matter of having the right props (although that is important), but of assuming the right attitude and saying the right words.

Most make-believe games will not require adults to participate (or even listen). Indeed, it will probably expand your child's imagination more if you allow them to make up their own scenarios rather than offering input. Letting children create her own private world. If you are invited you to play a role,by all means join in. But take the role assigned to you and let your child control the unfolding of the plot

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