Key Times for Play: The First Three Years

Key Times for Play: The First Three Years

Key Times for Play: The First Three Years

Key Times for Play: The First Three Years


"There are three reasons why this book deserves to be taken seriously. The first is because it concerns 'play', and this is a challenging and multi-faceted subject. The second reason is because it examines play during the first three years of life, which is a crucial period for the developing child in many aspects (i.e. physical, emotional, cognitive, etc.). The third reason is the book's virtues, the most important of which are the clarity of thought displayed by its authors, the systematic descriptions of play contexts and play between children and adults, and the accessible style in which it is written. International Journal of Early Years Education

Key Times for Play takes a broad look at the importance of play for children from birth to three and sets play within the framework of a child's whole development. The book combines theory and practice and is illustrated by many examples from direct observation of children.

Key Times for Play is organised in relation to key characteristics of children from birth to three, each of which are looked at in relation to how very young children play. The implications of this for how adults interact with young children and how they provide, support and develop play experiences is a major focus.

A key theme of the book is the emphasis on a holistic approach to young children's play. Play is therefore looked at in relation to all aspects of the child's day and the separation of play and work and care and education is challenged.

Key Times for Play is suitable for the student undertaking a level three qualification, but wishing to continue onto a degree course. It is a challenging text for these levels, but because it keeps a practical approach, it remains accessible to the reader.


The importance of context

In a busy group of children aged 6 months to 2 years old, Katherine sits on a low chair feeding Edie with her bottle. Twenty-two-month-old Melanie is sitting on a beanbag surrounded by books she has selected from the low open shelves, perused and then discarded. Tom (14 months) approaches Katherine and offers her a shaker to listen to, they talk about the sound it makes. When Edie has finished feeding, she and Hassan (8 months) sit in a protected corner of the room exploring a wealth of different objects in the Treasure Basket (Goldschmied and Jackson 1994), while Tom and three other mobile babies follow Max to the hall area, which has been prepared for their regular Heuristic Play session (Goldschmied and Jackson 1994). Melanie has now joined some toddlers from the neighbouring group in the shared passage area, crawling through the transparent tunnel into a tent and following the older toddlers up, down and around the slide. She can see Katherine, who is sitting attentively with Edie and Hassan, through the open, folding partition doors. She briefly returns to Katherine's side before zooming back out to bounce on the small trampoline with Kojo, while Wendy sings the Jumping Bean song to them.

Next door in a group of 2–3-year-olds Bethany is in the home area with a large cone hat on her head, scooping lentils from one of three shallow trays with a bottle top into a metal bowl. In the centre of the room Debbie sits with three children, each with a tray and tools, dripping gloop from their fingers.

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