玩耍是如何随着年龄变化的?Play Through the Ages



“Children repeat in their play, everything that has made an impression on them in real life” – Sigmund Freud


Quite a powerful statement, don’t you think? In our previous blog, we looked at the various examples of play and attempted to define what play is a complex adaptive system.



As we move forward with this series we will look at how play changes in children as they grow older and move through the many stages of cognitive development. Children grow up fast and so does their play, it evolves with them over time and will hopefully stay with them their whole lives and make it an important part of who they are as a person as Freud eludes to.


George Herbert Mead was one of the first to look in depth at the way children develop and establish a sense of ‘self'. George's studies are mainly in the field of sociology, but what we're going to be using is his suggestion that children move through 3 different stages of development.


  • 准备阶段 0-3岁 The Preparatory Stage 0-3 Years



Believe it or not this stage starts from birth and ranges all the way to 3 years old! While a lot can happen in these 3 years it's this primary stage that builds fundamentals for a lifetime of play, but how? Through imitation. Babies of this age are exploring the world around them and learning how to move in their bodies, but their social interactions rely on being able to imitate what they see, feel and hear.

对于宝宝来说,模拟是表达对现有知识的理解和尝试理解新知识的重要方式,也是他们的动作、认知和社交技能进步的重要指示。(Jones, 2009)

Imitation is an expression of understanding of current knowledge but also of apprehension for new knowledge and are key indicators of the child's developing motor, cognitive and social skills (Jones, 2009). 


What can you do at this stage? Spend time playing. It’s as simple as that, take some time out of your day to spend playing with the infant in your family, it’s so important to make the most of these years and get on their level and play with them, they’ll laugh and enjoy this time and also imitate some actions that will help in all aspects of their development.


  • 玩耍阶段 3-5岁 Play Stage 3-5 Years


If the preparatory stage was all about imitation, then this stage is all about doing! Here children engage in multiple forms of role play, they begin to make stories and complex narratives to express their growing imagination. They being to express themselves and want to understand the how’s and whys of play.


At this stage children want to use their real-life experiences to form their periods of play, they pretend. We can define pretend as the acting out of stories which involve multiple perspectives and the playful manipulation of ideas and emotions (Kaufman& Singer 2012).


What’s also important here is that rules and structure are very difficult for a child to understand and adhere to, the world is still chaotic and ever-changing to them, they often like to make it up as they go along because for them it’s far more engaging than trying to stick to rules that they can’t yet understand, how many times have you played with a 4-year-old and they innovate from a very basic concept?


Introduction to a sport is also possible at this age, while it’s true that sports are defined by rules and regulations, with the right program with professionals who understand the concepts of early childhood development sport can really have a benefit for a young child. At this stage, it’s not about technical development or even understanding the sport! It’s about the key principles of play and social interaction.


  • 游戏阶段 6-9岁 Game Stage 6-9 Years


By this stage in a child's developmental adventure, they're able to play and should be using a large portion of their time playing. As they’re now becoming conscious of their own ‘self’ and those around them the concept of play begins to take a different shape and becomes about more than just imitation and pretend.


Their awareness of a larger social group and an understanding of rules and boundaries means that children can start to play in more complex systems and can feel things such as peer pressure and expectations. Now with rules children can start to participate in organized sport, play starts to take more of a format and becomes more recognizable.


The 'recognizable' form of play can still vary, think of a 6-year-old that can still get easily distracted but also manages to stay within the boundaries of the game, compared with an 8-year-old who’s fully focused on developing their skill or technique. Seeing this in action helps us realize how children grow over time and how their play grows with them. 


接下来是什么?What’s Next?



We've traveled through play from a newborn learning about the world all the way to a 9-year-old playing in organized sports. With organized sport comes the interaction with a coach and the continued evolution of play, another major step in the journey of play, a coach can be seen by a young child as a more ‘capable’ other, someone who you look up to and learn from (Vygotsky). This has a significant impact on how children learn and play for the rest of their lives, and it is something we will explore in greater detail in part 3.


Reference List





W. D. Abernethy, Theory Into Practice. Vol. 13, No. 4, The Value of Play for Learning (Oct. 1974), pp. 310-316




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