On page 7 of the Full Day Kindergarten Draft Document it says, “Social, emotional, and cognitive self-regulation and the ability to communicate with others are foundational to all forms of learning and have been shown to be best developed in play-based environments.”
“Young children’s play allows them to explore, identify, negotiate, take risks and create meaning. The intellectual and cognitive benefits of playing have been well documented. Children who engage in quality play experiences are more likely to have well-developed memory skills, language development, and are able to regulate their behaviour, leading to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning.” Bodrova, E. & Leong, DJ (2005). Uniquely Preschool: what research tells us about the ways young children learn. Educational Leadership, 63(1), 44-47
Play helps to promote self-regulatory behaviour in children because it creates positive emotions. Play helps to promote attention and conflict resolution. Participating in Socio-dramatic play helps children take the perspective of others. During imaginative play children engage in private speech – self-talk. They talk to themselves about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. This self-talk is self-regulating language and research shows that it is predictive of executive functions.
Play in and of itself, promotes self-regulation but through our Inquiry we also discovered that some Circle Time games also promote self-regulation in terms of increasing the ability to focus and shift attention. During these games, the children must listen, process the information, and then act.
Megan McClelland from the University of Oregon found that using Simon Says or a Head/Toes game helped preschoolers to better focus and shift attention. We found that our students loved to play these games and really enjoyed teaching every adult that came into our room how to play the Head/Toes game. In this game, you must do the opposite of what the leader calls out. For instance, if the leader says “head”,you must touch your toes. If the leader says, “toes”, you touch your head. Other opposite pairings are “knees” and “shoulders”, “eyes” and “ears”. “mouth” and “nose”. As the year went on, the children became better and better at this game. You could really see them thinking and processing the information. It was easy for us to see that those who were most successful at this game were the most attentive during any group activity and were able to focus and shift attention easily. Those that found this game difficult also found it tricky to sustain attention during group activities. As the students got better at this game, their attention and focusing also increased