Monday, 23 July 2012

Thoughts on: Play and Pedagogy in Early Childhood

Play and Pedagogy in Early Childhood - Bending the Rules, by Sue Dockett & Marilyn Fleer (1999)

Section 1. Theories of Play.
Section 2. A New Look at Play?
Section 3. Analysing Play.
Section 4. Play in Action.

My take-away: Play is very important to a child. Play is creative, and the child has some investment or ownership in the Play. When the child's control over Play is removed or disenfranchised, it ceases to be Play and becomes Work; the child will rapidly lose interest in Work.

In Play, the child explores the range of their knowledge and understanding of their world. So often, in babies and toddlers, new toys or knowledge will be applied using the learned methods of interaction - dropping items, mouthing items, using the new item to knock against known objects (e.g. using a new wooden spoon to knock against known pots and pans).

In Play, the child extends their range of knowledge and understanding of their world.

In Play, the child extends their mastery of their environment. Play will become complex, either externally (interaction with others) or internally (solo play).

It is important to have a coherent plan when designing a Play environment for young children, as they are also learning about their social environment and context, e.g. role modelling, peer interaction (e.g. joining an existing game).

Steiner, Montessori, Piaget developed their theories in the late 1800's or early 1900's. I have a lot of respect for them. However I would send my kid to New Zealand's more modern curriculum, now that I've found out a bit more of the research into childhood since 1960's. I particularly like Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological model of Play. But that's in the next section.

What I'll do: I'll play more with Atilla. I did that tonight (23 July 2012), and it was a lot of fun. We both were able to withstand each other to bedtime and beyond.

I'm not very good at pretend play. I didn't do very much of that in my childhood. My way of interacting with Atilla is to have him learn life skills through play and praise - laundry, cooking, tidying up. He had great fun tonight climbing on the couch and sitting on the soft toys, and giggling at me sitting under the table. In the bath he was throwing himself backwards onto Dada (the helpless soul laying peaceably in the bath). At the winding down stage of bedtime, Atilla was chasing me with his finger puppet dragon.

One of his games (which is constantly developing in complexity a la Play theories) is Make Momma Wince. 'Gravity' is one variant - swiping things off the table or bench to make a loud clatter on the wooden floor. 'Spill' - playing with liquids, experimenting with what actions will make the liquid spill from its containment onto the table or floor. 'Bump' - bumping his head against things, wincing in reaction, and look for sympathy.

His other complex play is Make Dada Wail - discovering the many delay tactics which frustrate Dada's task of looking after Atilla.

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