Mature, intentional make-believe play is the foundation of self-regulation development. It creates conditions in which young children are able to act in a more mature way and use more mature mental functions. Children remember more, attend better and have better self-regulation. This kind of play is the only classroom experience that naturally provides the three types of interactions which lead to self-regulation: regulation by others, regulation of others, and self-regulation. Without deliberate scaffolding by teachers who provide on-going opportunities to engage in mature play, many young children will not develop it on their own.
Mature intentional play has the following characteristics:
– Supports expressing and representing intention through play planning.
– Has explicit roles and implicit rules.
– Uses symbolic props
– Has an extended time-frame (long-term projects).
– Includes extensive use of language.
– Involves an imaginary pretend scenario.
Children describe what they are going to do when they play and then represent their plan on paper in drawing and writing. Children work at their own level, adding detail to their drawn plans, using lines to represent words in their written message.
In Buddy Reading, pairs of children ‘read’ books to each other, using external mediator cards to remind them of their roles as they take turns reading and listening. These cooperative partner activities are designed to foster self-regulation development and positive child-to-child interaction while also fostering the development of emergent literacy and numeracy skills.