Essays in Education


Educational research has linked the quality of early childhood education programs to a reduction in special education enrollment and later academic success (Smith, 2004). High quality programs offer curriculums with academics and socialization. Russian developmental psychologist and social constructivist, Lev Vygotsky, believed culture and social interaction guide cognitive development. He, also, suggested that play stimulates the development of abstract thought (Santrock, 2006). The purpose of this literature review was to determine the importance of Symbolic play as an early childhood curriculum component for the development of cognitive and social skills.

Rubin (as cited in Umek & Musek, 2001) identified role enactment as the highest level of symbolic play. Studies revealed that while engaged in symbolic play, children learn to negotiate, self-regulate, and solve tasks. During the preschool years, children will naturally engage in symbolic play. Providing a developmentally appropriate curriculum can ensure opportunities for academic and social enhancement during pretend play. By utilizing symbolic play as a curriculum component, teachers can observe students, obtain information, diagnose potential problems, and assist them.

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