Several indicators may be used to predict how a preschool child plays in randomly selected situations that are quite helpful in predicting a child’s play behavior. These include cognition abilities, physical abilities, social abilities, and the child’s emotional attachments. A child’s play behavior is heavily influenced by his or her cognition regarding the elements in his or her environment. The child’s perception towards the toys available as well as his or her peers in the playground often affects the way he or she behaves when playing (Johnson, Christie & Wardle, 2005). The use of cognition abilities to identify the character of children is not only limited to their play activities but can also be applied in identifying their social and academic performance. The fact that cognition is prone to manipulation as the child grows through teaching him or her new ways of perceiving the elements in his or her environment, means that negative characteristics can be weeded out to ensure that the child engages in play activities positively.
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Physical characteristics weigh in heavily on the performance of a child during play activities. The fact that physical abilities have a significant influence on the way a child engages with his or her environment means that predicting play patterns and preferences may be easy (Johnson, Christie & Wardle, 2005). It is, however, crucial to note that with the guidance of teachers as well as parents, a child may be in a position to overcome his or her physical disadvantages and engage in play activities that may be identified to be impossible for children with physical disabilities.
Social aspects can be used to identify a child’s play behavior especially in a context where the child must interact with other children during the play activity. This can at times differ between boys and girls as boys are known to take up greater personal space than girls do during play activities. It is identified that even though boys may choose to play at extreme ends of the playground while girls choose to play in a concentrated group, the communication between the different children may not always be the same (Johnson, Christie & Wardle, 2005). This may be the reason behind teachers identifying boys as loud and noisy while girls are quieter during play activities. The complete lack of communication between a child and the rest of the children in the playground or even the teachers in the environment may suggest a strong detachment from their social capabilities. This weighs in heavily on the play activities that they prefer, and it may often be portrayed through shyness when engaging in group play activities.
Emotional aspects may dictate the play behavior of a child regarding his or her attachments or detachments thereof. It is identified that at a young age a child is often attached to his or her parents and other close family members as well as superior authority figures that they trust such as teachers. As the child grows older and approaches teenage, the child becomes more emotionally attached to his or her peers while at the same time avoiding or rather detaching themselves from their parents and authority figures in their environment. Young children are, therefore, identified to take up play activities that are suggested by the authority figures they are emotionally attached to and to some extent only choose to participate in play activities if the parent or teacher plays with him or her (Johnson, Christie & Wardle, 2005). The child avoids playing with the rest of the children, which at times may be translated to mean a lack of social skills. As the children get older, emotional attachments change and they become more involved in play activities where they can interact with peers.
Johnson, J., Christie, J., & Wardle, F. (2005). Play, Development, and Early Education. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.