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The Development of Children's Playground Behavior

Field Report on the development of children's playground behaviour, based upon the observation of nursery and primary school children.

Note: To protect the identity of the children observed and mentioned in this report, their names have been changed.

Much research has been done into children's play behaviour. Theories and models have been proposed detailing the phases and stages through which a child will develop. These phases lie along a linear plane with each child advancing through them showing different traits along differing timescales. Piaget (1951) described a developmental sequence from practice play through symbolic play, to games with rules acknowledging that these stages were overlapping. There have also been numerous attempts to try and define the characteristics of play; of which a concise definition seems almost impossible, with each party placing it emphasis on different criteria that encompass playful behaviour. (Smith et al.,1998). For the purpose of my observation I shall define play as being physically active behaviour with no external goal present, they are not doing the activity for any reason other than self-pleasure. If a goal becomes applicable then play ceases.

The purpose of this report is to see how these theories and models correlate to my cross sectional observations of nursery and primary school age children (3-11) in visits within Loughborough and also to my work at a Junior Boys School (grade K-7, age 4-12) in Victoria, BC. Canada.

Two separate visits were made firstly to the on campus nursery (ages 3-4), then to Thorpe Acre Junior School (key stage 1, ages 4-9). Due to the differing observation requirements, prior to each visit I prepared separate observation protocols (annex 1).

My initial impression of Peter on being introduced to him was that he was of about average size compared to the other boys in the group. Squatting down to his level I introduced myself. At first he seemed shy bu...

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