Playful Learning and Pedagogies within Early Childhood Education

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DISCUSS AND ANALYSE ISSUES ASSOCIATED
WITH PLAYFUL LEARNIN G AND PLAYFUL
PEDAGOGIES WITHIN EARLY CHILDHOOD
EDUCATION
Introduction
Within the early childhood field, play has long been acknowledged as an important context for children's learning and development. Play is a significant aspect of their lives, reflecting their social and cultural contexts. Consequently, changes within these contexts impact on both the nature and quality of children's play experiences. No one definition of play can encompass all the views, perceptions, experiences and expectations that are connected with it. Nevertheless, there appears to be broad agreement amongst theorists coming from a range of disciplinary backgrounds that play can make an important contribution to children’s development. There has been considerable research documenting the vital role of play in fostering optimal growth, learning and development across all domains such as physical, cognitive, social, and emotional throughout childhood (Fisher, 1992; Isenberg & Quisenberry, 2002; Stine, 1997). Play provides a vehicle for children to both develop and demonstrate knowledge, skills, concepts and dispositions (Dempsey & Frost, 1993; Isenberg & Quisenberry, 2002). Play provides a nonthreatening context for children to learn about their world and gain skills necessary for adult life (Bjorklund, 1997; Bruner, 1972). Through their interactions with the environment during play, children gain control and ultimately mastery over their bodies with the development of a range of manipulative and motor skills. They learn new skills and concepts, discover the world, and learn about themselves and others through their interactions in a variety of social situations. Play also facilitates language development, creative thinking and problem-solving, and helps children deal with complex and competing emotions (Dempsey & Frost, 1993; Wyver & Spence, 1999; Zeece & Graul, 1993).

Play – A Child’s perspective
Play involves a free choice activity that is non-literal, self-motivated, and enjoyable and process oriented. Critical to this definition is the non-literal, non-realistic aspect. This means external

aspects of time, use of materials, the environment, rules of the play activity, and roles of the participants are all made up by the children playing. They are based on the child's sense of reality (Wardle, 1987). "Children do not play for a reward-praise, money, or food. They play because they like it."(p. 28). According to Bruce (2004) there is no clear definition for play. It is still an umbrella world (Ibid, 1991), while other early childhood practitioner’s defined play as ‘child’s work.’ Play is primary way children express their social nature (Strickland et al, 2003). Ibid (2003) argued that all kids enjoy playing alone some of the time; while some prefer to play with others social play much of the time. Piaget defined play as “a kind of scientific rehearsal” (Penn, 2008; p.43). While Bitton (2010) stated that play offers a meaningful context for children and that it is only when a situation has meaning and purpose. Indoor activity – a cause for concern in the digitised era Kitty sits focused on his computer screen. Jessica's watching her favourite television program and Tim is enthusiastically playing video games. All these scenarios have in common thing that they're all taking place indoors therefore, a situation becoming more and more typical in the lives of British children. There are a number of reasons for this disturbing trend. Among them is lack of time, as pre-schoolers in our society lead adult like, highly-scheduled lives and parents themselves have less time to supervise outdoor play or to take their children to the playground. Safety is another issue in today's world, with many parents reluctant to allow their children the freedom they themselves may have had as children. And, of course, the competition with television, computers, and video games is tremendous. What could...
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