Higher Order Play and Its Role in Development and Education



This paper focuses on the role of play in children’s development and as a curricular strategy in an attempt to come to terms with the problem that play is increasingly seen as superfluous for learning, while increasingly viewed as vital for development. The author provides a critical analysis of Vygotsky’s theory of play and the “common” view of the cognitive trajectory of play in development that all forms of play in early childhood lead to games and sports or better social skills in later life. An alternative, bilateral theory of play is presented, postulating that two types of play in early childhood, skill-based play and higher order play (sustained make-believe play involving roles, a scenario, and verbal/social interaction) each lead to different development outcomes: games/sports and higher order thinking respectively. An argument is made for higher order play as a key strategy for good teaching in any grade.

General Information

Keywords: play, make-believe play, dramatic play, preschool, cognitive development, self-regulation, Vygotsky

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Saifer S. Higher Order Play and Its Role in Development and Education. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2010. Vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 48–61.


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Information About the Authors

Steffen Saifer, Doctor of Education, Director of the Child and Family Program of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon (USA), USA, e-mail: saifer@comcast.net



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