Targets child’s mark making clearly demonstrates the “structure principles which produce Third Generation Structure of Closure” and ‘collinearity’ structure which Matthews (2003p28) explained as “when two or more drawings actions share the same path”. Her mark making shows the experience she had earlier on in the class, which was the teacher marking the register (p19). Fortunate for target child, she got the appropriate media (a class list) to represent her actions. Her drawings and mark making seems advanced for her age, as “many children, as they mature, seem to want to show depth relationships in drawings. We do not know if this is a natural, universal tendency or whether it occurs because of cultural influences” Matthews (2003p155).
Language goes hand in hand with visual representation. Target child used an appropriate language in explaining her actions. Certain theorist advocates that “language like drawings has its roots in physical action gesture.” Matthews (2003p33) explained that “all forms of representation originate from the same source and are unified with an interacting system”. Allot (2001) in Matthews (2003p33) said “words and objects are deeply connected in representational systems in the brain” and “it is through play that the child learns to separate words from objects and actions from meaning”.
It is through language that the child is able to explain and talk about their actions. The child can also see “that there is a relationship between these visual structures and structures in the real world. It is the ‘double knowledge’ which makes representation possible”. (Furth 1969) In Matthews (1994 p28). This summarised observation above is linked to the next observation I am about to discuss. Observation 5p(22-24) reveals the organisation and diversity of resources and provision in supporting target child’s autonomy and choice of representational media. This again shows a variety of representations and actions. It consists of first generation modes, push and pull effects, closure, numbers, names and other objects. Target child represented her friends by writing their names as well as producing human figures.
She was able to represent herself, due to the diversity of resources provided by the adults in the setting. This enabled her and all her peers to make choices, encouraged independence as well as an exploration of the effect of these cultural references. These cultural references are papers, pencils, crayons, computers, songs, etc. This agrees with Matthews (2003 pg 23) notion that “the child does not encounter visual media on his or her own, but within a social ad cultural context”. Her choice of “media use are constructed physically and conceptually.” Matthews (2003p23). Children are affected by the culture of the settings they attend. They are therefore shaped and influenced by this culture. (Pahl1999).
“Another misconception about children’s development and learning is that children neither initiate any learning by themselves nor play any significant role in this learning process. According to this view children are basically empty vessels and the task of education is to ‘fill’ them with knowledge” Matthews (2003p20). The adults therefore need to provide children with the necessary resources that will make children’s learning possible.
Through play, children are able to represent themselves in various ways. It increases their imagination and creativity. Freud in Moyles (1999 pg 90) says, “through play, children will show their ‘inner-selves’.” This is linked to target child’s imaginative and socio dramatic role-play. Refer to observation 8 pg. “Observing socio-dramatic play of young children can be a most delightful experience”. Anning, In Moyles (1994 p66).
This agreed with this particular and typical socio-dramatic role-play by target child and her peers in the setting. They represented their play symbolically. They used various objects such as tyres, wood, cones, chairs and scarves “to stand for other things” Jenkins (2001 pg 85). The children worked colaberately as they shared the roles and responsibilities in building the house for ‘me’. There was a wide use of vocabulary and language during the play. They were able to describe their play and actions appropriately. Target child and her peers are therefore ‘symbolic players’. Jenkins (2001 pg 85) advocates that “symbolic players need to be more verbal to describe their play symbolism to others”.
Children use props to represent their play as well. “It becomes symbols too” Jenkins (2001 pg 86). Refer to (p28) which is a picture of an example of props about the Three Little Pigs. Practitioners support children socio-dramatic and fantasy play by providing resources such as props as well as creating endless opportunities that will encourage interaction, to solve problems, to broaden imaginations as well as to reveal individual strategies towards learning. Moyles (1994).
The last observation I am about to discuss is target child’s representation in relation to scientific and mathematical concept. Observation 9 (p29-31). The Foundation Stage Curriculum guidance QCA (2001 pg 8) emphasised on children’s “positive attitudes dispositions’ towards their learning” in all areas in the curriculum. Practitioners need to allow children to observe, explore, experiment and hypothesise. These opportunities allow children to develop mathematical and scientific thinking and concepts.
A typical example is observation 9 (p29). The effect caused by the white paint in the water encouraged target child to play and explore. Whitebread (1996 pg 251) says, “Children are naturally curious and gain enormous pleasure from exploration and discovery”. The observation reveals a lengthy dialogue between the practitioner and the target child. This helped target child’s learning by the adults’ ‘scaffolding’ it through the appropriate conversation and language being used.
The activity surrounding the water play provided by the adults, aided both scientific exploration and early mathematical skills for target child and her peers. The different bottles in the water reinforced the concept and knowledge of big, medium, small and estimation. Her counting skills were also evidenced through scooping and counting the water into the big bottle. “Children are mathematical thinkers in their own right and have already made many connections and conclusions before they start school”. Whitebread (1996 pg 273).
The adult engaging target child in that lengthy conversation (refer to p29) helped her to understand and clarify the scientific knowledge and concept about this particular activity. Target child was able to hypothesise her scientific thinking by dropping the bottle filled with water in the water tray, which splashed on her peer nearby as ‘heavy water’. I therefore conclude this essay by saying that it is important for children to represent themselves symbolically in different ways and forms as this helps them to make sense of their play and world in which they live in. The adults’ support is essential and crucial in this area of development. The resources, materials and opportunities created by the adults help children in representing themselves.
The social context in which symbolic representation takes place is also important. This involves language, culture and media. Parental involvement in this area of learning is vital. It helps parents to understand that learning takes place in different forms and aspects. Observations on children’s play and learning are the only way that the adult will know the developmental stage that the child has reached.