Early childhood and childhood games

Sarit Levy – National Vision Instructor, and Hoodia Navon – Occupational Clinic, Elia
Also published in issue number 50 of the newspaper “Expanding the Horizon” – Ofek for our children  

Play is a human need and it accompanies the person at every age, place and society, however it is most common in infancy and childhood. During this period the child learns through play: getting to know the physical and social environment, getting to know himself, his strengths and his physical, social and emotional abilities. He learns to control his body and the environment. The game develops verbal abilities, the child expresses his thoughts, feelings, needs, passions and conflicts. Participating in the game is a necessary part of growing and developing throughout life.

According to Piaget, in the developmental process the game can be divided into three main types according to the significant cognitive changes that occur in the child’s life:

  1. The sensorimotor game, especially until the age of two
  2. The symbolic game, from the age of one and a half
  3. Playing with rules, ages 2 and up
  4. The sensorimotor game (from birth to one and a half years old)

Characterized by 3 stages:
A. Interactive game with parent: smiles and facial expressions, ponytail games, tickling game. A child from a very young age responds to the parent’s smile, learning to participate in creating situations that will lead to a smile and mutual attention.
B. Movement game and familiarity with the body organs: The child’s initial play is with his body, he learns to recognize the boundaries of his body. At first the game is random and later intentional. For example, when the child is in position 6, he begins to rock himself, finds pleasure in swinging and repeats this over and over again. Repetition is very typical of play in children and is necessary for learning.third.
Playing with an object: Toddlers invest a lot of attention and effort in determining the nature of objects and how they can be activated. The object is of great importance to the child because it provides emotional security in connection with the world (for example, the transition object), allows the child to express feelings or worries (puppets), to interact with adults and other children. Owning objects also allows him to learn about the world around him. The game with the object is characterized by the following steps:
– Eye contact with the object, focusing and tracking.
Reaching for the object, learning about the object, accuracy in reaching.
-Grip of the object, development of grip, adjustment of grip to the object (according to prior knowledge).
Examination of the object, bringing an object to the mouth, tapping, tapping an object on the object, throwing, transferring from hand to hand.
Learning cause and effect.
In children with visual impairment or blindness, the investigation relies more on the sense of touch and hearing, putting objects in the mouth and touching the hands and feet. The investigation helps them learn about the properties of the object: the size of the object, height, depth, texture, type of material, temperature, weight, flexibility and more.

Most importantly, expose children to a wide variety of materials: wood, nylon, metal, plastic, wool and rubber. It is advisable to give them ringing / playing games, as the sounds help focus and track the object.

  1. The symbolic game (from the age of a year and a half or so)

The symbolic game allows the child to create his own subjective reality, for example, through “like” games:
– Simple, functional activity: the child uses the object in a way that matches the object, for example, a child talks on the phone, drinks from a glass.
– The boy pretends that the object is something else: for example, a girl who pretends that the cube is a comb and she combs the doll.
– The child disguises himself as a different character: pretends to be a lion, a car, etc.
Role-playing games: based on everyday situations, for example family, teacher and children. Sometimes even imaginary situations like King, Superman.
You should observe the child’s play, check what interests him. Respond to his initiatives, do not come up with our ideas how to play with this object, check what the child is doing with the object and develop the game from there.
The symbolic game develops more slowly among children with visual impairments due to the difficulty in imitation. They do not see some of the daily actions of the people around them, so they invest the energy in deciphering and identifying the object and find it difficult to imagine that the object is something else. The game flows less when you need to decipher what the object is or locate an object in space. The operation of the game takes time due to difficulty in hand-eye coordination, difficulty in bringing the hand accurately to the object, and doing small manipulations in the game (such as putting the driver in the car, sitting the doll on the chair).Encourage your child to choose: Choose between two games The choice can be by reaching out or staring at your favorite object / game. A child with blindness can be given two games so that he can explore each game separately, and we, at the same time, will describe and tell about the game during the activity, so that the child can choose what he wants to continue playing.
Children learn from imitation, look at the parents’ random action and imitate it. Even children with visual impairments or with blindness can learn from imitation and we need to allow them this important opportunity. Make sure, as parents playing with their children, that while playing movement movements with your child, he sees or feels your movement and you explain and tell about what is happening and what you are doing.
How do we encourage imitation? (Interactive game with parent)
Background: Try to play with your child in a stimulus-free environment, for example a quieter room in the house, pay attention to the color of the game, the contrast of colors between the game and the background and the various game accessories.
Height: Play with your child so he can see or feel your face, be close to him.
Emphasize facial organs: glasses, blush on the lips, gloves on the hands, stickers on the hands, finger puppets, a hat on the head and also, accompanied by clear text and facial expressions.
You can also play with the child in a dark room with ultraviolet or directional lighting, such as a flashlight or other focused lighting in the direction of the object. Stickers can be put on body parts, inside the palm – open and close. A ball of light under the shirt, a white handkerchief on his head. Hide a game under the leg or behind the back.Mediation
Our children need mediation in different ways. When giving a new game, it is advisable to give the child time to explore the object and also allow him to try and make a mistake, not to give a straight solution. It is worth “texting” the action – referring to a specific verb, to basic concepts in space, to the type of material of the object.In a child with blindness, the wording of all the actions is especially important, as he learns to distinguish between the different sounds of the actions. Give clear instruction. Do not say “put it here” but “put the ball in the basket on the right side of the table”.
How do we encourage the development of symbolic play in children with visual impairment or blindness? Use mediation to improve imitation ability even while the child is playing with himself. You can do a new action in reality with the children before playing as if (first experience what a picnic is, then play as if). In a game that requires fine motor skills, it is worth doing the movements with the child the first few times On the chair and more).

In order to make it easier for children, we need to make adjustments to the games they play:
In order to decipher the object, make sure that the games have clear contours (vegetables and fruits). You should add a tangible item to the game that helps identify, such as a bell around a cow. It is also advisable to use objects from everyday life in the game (milk carton, cheese box, water bottle). To alleviate the difficulty in hand-eye coordination children can play large assembly games (Lego from large blocks), we will add scotch tape under small games (animals, dolls, cubes) to facilitate accuracy in laying the game. We will play with games in a dark room: for example, we will build a train of cubes at a light table, drive the car home with ultraviolet lighting and more.
The game environment must be taken care of and the adjustments made, such as, contrast, size and load. It is recommended that the object be in a color that contrasts with the play environment (carpet, table, floor) and the size that the child sees. It is also advisable that the environment be with relatively few stimuli and without music. When it comes to a child with blindness, it is best to play on parquet / resonator board, which provide information about a fallen object. To improve learning, it is recommended that the child be without shoes, with shorts, in order to increase the area of ​​contact between the body and the game. It is also advisable for the object to be between the legs to give information about the boundaries of the object.

  1. Rules games (from the age of two and up)

From the age of about two, one begins to play an organized and structured game with rules, sometimes these are external rules like in board games, and sometimes the children invent their own rules. Such games are games like table games (domino, lottery, puzzle, monopoly), computer games, team game, competitive game such as football, darts. When the game is structured, it is easier for children to play and take part in the game, there are rules, the game is clear, and repetition takes place thanks to the set rules.
For children with visual impairment or blindness, the emotional aspect is appropriate for those games, for example, sensory dominoes with prominent cards / shapes, as well as sensory memory or construction of a walking track with sensory accessories with different textures along the track..

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