Gaming and new technologies have enabled new discoveries in the field of neuroscience thanks to imaging. But how can technology influence neuroeducation? Both children and young people are attracted to everything that has to do with applications, devices, and video games, mainly because it generates emotion for them.
Play is the central axis of neuroeducation in early childhood. Play is a natural way for the brain to learn, and it is a process that begins and ends with the active participation of the child. According to modern neuroscience, play is an effective trigger of emotions that help to remember, associate and transform complex concepts.
Play is linked to the neurodevelopmental process. It is possible to find an unlimited number of games: sensory, motor, somatosensory integration, socioemotional, cognitive, abstract, with fine motor demands, etc. Studies in neuroscience have also used some computer programs based on games to determine some learning disorders or mental functions, mainly focused on: dyslexia, dyscalculia, working memory, and attention deficit, among others.
The etymology of the game
According to the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, a game “is the action and effect of playing, pastime, and amusement. Recreational exercise subject to rules”. Play is not exclusive to human beings; it arises in animal nature itself, as an important evolutionary innovation. Its main function is to provide entertainment and amusement, although it can also contribute to the fulfillment of an educational role.
Play is a natural and interesting learning process, and its benefits are indisputable. In children, it represents a vital need for their development. If we were to make a structured representation of the components of playful activity, we would find the following elements: Pleasure is obtained.
- Social aspects are developed.
- Symbolic component.
- It uses intellectual capacity.
- It uses communicative, emotional, and motor skills.
- It establishes a relationship with the surrounding world.
- It makes possible an approach to the inner world.
There are numerous types of games: strategy, popular, movement, logic, construction, role-playing, board games, card games, video games, etc. It is through play that one imitates, imagines, fights have fun, makes an effort, etc. In order to introduce the game in the teaching practice, it is necessary to know the different classifications, in order to make responsible use of it.
According to Piaget, there are three types of games, in relation to the different stages of development, and each one contributes to the biological, psychological, and social development of the child. His classification is as follows:
Movement games. The child plays sensory-motor games, which allow him to control his movements.
Symbolic games. The child imitates and recreates the reality that surrounds him/her.
Games with rules.
Benefits of play
The play represents a source of learning from birth. Through games, children learn to know themselves and others. It also helps to implement strategies, simulate situations of everyday life, and, ultimately, helps in the construction and development of personality.
Therefore, play plays an essential role in the cognitive, emotional, and social development of the individual. Experts affirm that play is fundamental for the health and development of children, since, through it, they develop their abilities, learn values and develop skills (rules, patience, empathy, conflict resolution, frustration, etc.).
In addition, it is an ideal environment to externalize emotions and feelings. Games, especially those played outdoors, have a transcendental influence on the development of the nervous system. For this to occur, different sectors of the brain are involved in the process. During childhood, mainly through play, what is called planned movement is obtained. Some of the key reasons why it is essential to integrate the playful component in teaching can be found in Anna Forés and Marta Ligioiz (2009):
- Pleasure and satisfaction: the student tries, explores, and assumes the error, which allows him to improve, always enjoying the process.
- Stimulates curiosity: through curiosity, creative capacity is increased.
- Stimulates self-confidence: improves self-esteem, generates perseverance in the face of challenges, and is an ideal source for fostering resilience.
- It allows the expression of feelings: emotions are expressed in a natural way.
- It favors the internalization of behavioral norms: knowing and respecting rules.
- Stimulates the development of physical, psychological, affective, and social functions.
Learning by playing
“You can learn more about an individual during an hour of play than in a year of conversation”.
The play component can be integrated into any subject and at any stage, but it is important to take into account that there is a clear and defined learning objective. In this sense, the choice of the game is fundamental, because it has to be a challenge appropriate to the age, there must be continuous feedback, and it has to have levels or stages to maintain interest and motivation.
It should also be taken into account that for the brain it is not the same to play alone or accompanied since doing activities with other people requires a higher level of demand. Play is the place where all the elements proposed by neuroeducation are found. There is no other activity that provides challenge, desire to excel, reward, automatic feedback, and emotion, a lot of emotion. Currently, it is one of the best tools that can be used, especially because of the great variety of games that can be found.