The Excellence of Play Second Edition
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It examines the vital importance of play as a tool for learning and teaching for children and practitioners, supporting all those who work in early childhood education and care in developing and implementing the highest quality play experiences for young children. All the contributors are experts in their fields and all are passionate about the excellence of play. It is essential reading for all early years students and practitioners. Smith, David Whitebread. Excerpt Jack 6 years old and George nearly 3 years old are playing 'safari' in the garden.
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Worthington, M. Early Years Foundations: Meeting the Challenge. Such initiatives arose following independent inquiries into service failures in England DoH ; DoH and HD , which highlighted ingrained professional demarcations, hindering collaboration and service delivery for children and families. In the past, provision for many young children with special educational needs has come within the remit of health services, which has influenced their educational experiences Grant and Carne ; Sebba et al.
This gives the potential for new collaborations but also new challenges. Other research has recognised the need for greater focus on the experiences of children and families to inform the future development of integrated services Tucker et al.
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To aid the culture shift towards integrated practice, the government instigated inter-professional education, particularly in health and social care. However, most children under 5 are educated and cared for by vocationally trained practitioners, many of whom are unlikely to have participated in inter-professional education.
Nonetheless, workforce reform for early years is under way; since , the government has committed to training Early Years Professionals EYPs , achieving Early Years Professional Status EYPS , to act as graduate leaders for early years care and education. The national standards set for EYPs include two relating directly to integrated practice.
What are the challenges faced by EYPs as they try to implement and lead others to implement programmes and interventions? We explore what is known about how children perceive different types of activity and how this affects their participation. We consider findings from two research studies: the first considers how the buildings in which early years provision is offered are perceived by children. Exploring perceptions of and participation in different types of activity for young children will help adults to provide the best available pedagogy for children in their care.
We have found, in the past, that strands of socio-cultural theory have helped us to make sense of what was going on Georgeson ; Payler Starting from the Vygotskian concept of the social formation of mind, we consider that every social context is the result of the choices people have made about what to do and say, and how to arrange their surroundings.
Everything in any social setting is therefore imbued with meaning, and children learn about these meanings in the course of everyday interactions with people, objects and the spaces that contain them. Sometimes children are learning about the perceptual and physical affordances Gibson ; Greeno ; Lockman of the spaces in which they find themselves. This can shape the way they play and the interactions they feel are available to them Waters This knowledge builds up over the early years so that, by the time they move into school, children have developed awareness of when it might be appropriate to play and be playful, and when they should be following instructions and adhering to routines see Fabian and Dunlop, Chapter The everyday practices in the early years of schooling, therefore, introduce Page 36 Page 37 WORK OR PLAY 37 children to different pedagogic genres and they become skilled in adopting different ways of talking in different situations, such as circle time and literacy sessions Christie To try to understand how this particular kind of learning happens, we have been considering what signals children might identify as they learn to distinguish between time to play and time to work.
We think it is important to take a multi-modal approach to this endeavour; it is not just verbal interactions that signal what might happen next, but sights, sounds, smells, temperature and texture. Boag-Munroe and Georgeson have built on this multi-modal approach to develop a framework to help practitioners think about how children and families read the signals from buildings used as early years settings, and how this shapes their understanding about what they can and cannot do in these buildings. The framework encourages practitioners to think about their settings in terms of the experience, the interpersonal relationships, and the cohesion or connectedness of their buildings.
Bernstein 35 encourages us to recognise that pedagogic discourse will always include both the content of what is to be taught instructional discourse, encapsulated for most settings in the early learning goals and the regulative discourse of social order, the often tacit understandings about relationships, who is in charge and who can make choices. Again, there are ways that this is signalled in the physical environment and in specialised ways of talking, and children learn to recognise these signals.
What is known about how children perceive different types of activity and how this impacts upon their participation? Previous research has shown that, in the course of their early educational experience, children learn to make distinctions between different kinds of activity, and that this contributes to their developing understanding of the difference between work and play, which they will take with them into adult life Apple and King While it has been shown that young children clearly associate particular objects paint, blocks, sand, construction materials, board and computer games with play rather than work Wing , other features of the classroom environment teacher presence, space and absence of constraint also influence their interpretation Howard Wing concluded from discussions with children that a main criterion for interpreting an activity as work or play appears to be whether the activity was perceived as obligatory or not.
However, distinguishing between the modality of an utterance requires a certain level of language comprehension see Papafragou and Ozturk , which might not be within the receptive language repertoire of some children with special educational needs.
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Environmental and non-verbal cues to play or work are likely to be more important for these pupils, as well as the recall of or association with feelings of effort and enjoyment, or the perception of these in others Howard Children, especially those with special needs, clearly must learn how to respond physically when confronted with different physical conditions such as slopes, steps, wide expanses or constricted spaces.
They must also learn how to use space socially, in conjunction with other people, taking the movements of others into account and interacting with other people as they move through different spaces. But they also need to learn about the cultural constraints and affordances of buildings, the kinds of movements, behaviour and interaction that are expected in particular spaces. These patterns of movement become so automatic that it can be difficult to explain to someone else how to perform part of your own daily routine, such as finding the way from the car park to the parents room.
Should they stay put or move around? Be quiet or sing loudly if they want to? Children will already have experience of places where they can move freely and places where there are constraints, so they need to find out what kind of constraints operate in the building. The sense of freedom versus constraint is at the heart of the distinctions that children make between work and play.
When considering how the day unfolds, how are time and space punctuated by signs of movement, position, objects and sensory stimuli? Historically, sounds such as bells have been used as punctuation to signal different phases of the day. Signals such as these, by association with particular activities, come to carry meaning and can then be recognised in other situations.
They become part of a repertoire of things-we-know-aboutplaces, the multi-modal discourse associated with particular activities.
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This enables us to read buildings as texts, in just the same way that we draw on our knowledge of letters, sounds and writing genres to understand a piece of writing. It is important, therefore, to look beyond words to ways in which the actions, words, space and objects together create and communicate dialogue. This chapter contributes to the body of literature exploring the ways in which early years practice is experienced by people for whom integrated services are designed, particularly young children with special educational needs.
As part of a study into differences in interaction and pedagogy in preschool settings Georgeson , I invited children aged 3 and 4 to talk about photographs of familiar and unfamiliar preschool settings. As soon as I moved on to photographs of the interiors, they readily labelled or commented, sometimes confirming, sometimes changing their initial interpretation from the photographs of the exterior. This influenced their perceptions of what sort of things happened inside. The extracts presented below illustrate some of the findings outlined above. The first extract is from a conversation with a 4-year-old girl who had recently moved into the village from a nearby town still in England and attended a playgroup in a village hall.
She is looking at photos of two unfamiliar nurseries, one Nursery 1 housed in a Victorian semi in a residential street, and the second Nursery 2 in a large detached Edwardian house set in its own grounds at the end of a drive, with lots of wood panelling and an impressive staircase inside the inner doors. The second extract is from a conversation with two 4-year-old girls from a playgroup in an inner-city area, also looking at photographs of Nursery 2. Nursery 2: drive with wrought-iron gates Where do you think that is?
I am going to school. Child with mosaic tiles What she doing? She do drawing Messy painting [excitement] Look, look at them.