PERCIEVED PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT OF PLAY THERAPY ON PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL WELL BEING OF PRESCHOOL CHILDREN (EDUCATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)
Background of the study
Every child passes through four stages of patterned development with outstanding characteristic traits. Each of these stages is age-related and consists of distinct ways of thinking. These four stages of cognitive development include the sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years), preoperational stage (2-7years), concrete operational stage (7-11years), formal operational stages (11 years through adulthood) (Sandtrock, 2004; Morgan, King, Weisz & Scholper 2002; Feldman, 2000). Preschool children belong to the pre-operational stage of cognitive development whereby children begin to understand and master symbols and draw from past experiences to make assumptions about things and people in their world. Hence, preschool children learn through meaningful activities in developmental stages where they gain and grasp information swiftly and express curiosity and amazement at each new discovery (Roode, 2010).
Preschool children (3-5 years) like playing with others of the same age group where they socialize and increase their vocabulary. According to Erickson (1964) this is the play age; when children are maximally ready for active learning. At this stage, preschool children develop lots of skills that could sometimes be manipulative and at other times problem solving in nature using variety of materials that encourage sorting, counting, ordering, numbering and pattern making which are the major activities in preschools. Young children are often heard talking to themselves. These “chats” are an opportunity for the youngsters to learn how to organize their thoughts. As they talk about their experiences, preschool children learn how to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. As children get older, this “talking out loud” will become an internal monologue. Children enjoy both listening to music and making their own. Whether it is a group sing-along, marching in a procession band, playing a triangle, or making up new lyrics to old favourite tunes, music is the universal language. Language is enhanced as children talk about how to build, what they built, what is its function or ask questions about concepts or directions. This newly developing ability to problem-solve is the basis for motivation at this stage. Having the self confidence to know that one can solve a problem motivates the learner to accept other new and challenging situations, which in turn lead to greater learning. At this age they take pleasure in sharing activities during play periods. Preschoolers enjoy socio-dramatic play in which they enact mini-dramas with other children. Through pretending they learn how to understand another person’s point of view, develop skills in solving social problems and become more creative in number of ways.