Beginning to Play: Young Children from Birth to Three

Beginning to Play: Young Children from Birth to Three

Beginning to Play: Young Children from Birth to Three

Beginning to Play: Young Children from Birth to Three

Synopsis

This book explains in detail how the play of babies and very young children can be supported. Recognizing the crucial link between communication and play, it encourages practitioners to recognize and respond to play signals initiated by the baby. Beginning to Play is essential reading for those working or intending to work with babies and very young children.

Excerpt

The Debating Play series is not intended to make comfortable reading. This is because ‘play’ is not a comfortable subject. For a century at least, play has been hotly debated among researchers, practitioners, parents, politicians and policy makers. Arguments have centred around whether it should have a place in any childhood curriculum framework. Its presence in schools and other institutions and settings has ebbed and flowed according to who holds power, influence and authority to control curriculum decisions. When play has been permitted in settings, it has often suffered from a work/play divide. Play in such contexts is frequently confused with recreation. However, an alternative approach is to offer ‘free play’, through which children are thought to learn naturally. This works well in mixed age groups (2–7 years) when older, more experienced child players act as tutors and initiate younger children, helping them to learn through their play. Sadly, though, this is rarely experienced in early childhood settings in the UK nowadays. It is noteworthy, however, that a few nursery schools have managed, against great odds, to keep an age range from 3–5 years. Research (Siraj-Blatchford et al. 2002) indicates that the learning that children do through their play in these settings is rich. There is a growing understanding of the importance of play as diverse evidence accrues, which highlights the role of play in early learning in relation to ideas, feelings, relationships and movement (embodiment). However, this is often mistakenly interpreted as adults showing children how to play, through guiding, tutoring, role-modelling or whatever name is of current fashion, rather than providing children with genuine opportunities to engage in their own play.

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