‘Early childhood education is underpinned by a strong tradition which regards play as essential to learning and development’ (Wood& Attefield, 2005: 1). This view is derived from educators such as Vygotsky, Frobel, Bruce, Isaac and Moyles who have carried out various research and observations on the effects of play. Despite this, the nature of play and its role in the curriculum continues to be critically analysed and debated, particularly beyond the early years of school. This essay seeks to outline the importance of play by analysing what it is, why children engage in it and how it contributes to development and learning.
In society today, play is associated with childhood as many hold the belief that children are the only people who engage with play however Moyles (1989) states otherwise, she begins to explain that ‘play is undoubtedly a means by which humans and animals explore a variety of experiences in different situations for diverse purposes’ (1989: ix). This is evidently true, as when adults receive a new gadget their initial reaction is to play around with the different components. It is through frequent use of that same object that individuals begin to familiarise themselves with the object and its components: ‘in a child’s play this is known as functional play’ (Moyles, 1989). A hand o...
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... deprived of play, the outcome of such situations leads to adverse effects in learning and development. Hence this holds a strong argument as to why play, plays a central role in the early years curriculum.
Bruce,T (2001). Learning through Play: Babies, Toddlers and the Foundation Years, London: Stoughton Educational
Hoorn, J, Patricia, N, Scales, B and Alward,K (1993). Play at the Centre of the Curriculum, United States of America: Macmillan
Moyles, J (1989). Just Playing?, Philadelphia: Open University Press
Smidth, S (2002) A Guide to Early Years Practice, London: Routledge Falmer
Tassoni, P and Beith, K (2002) Diploma Child Care and Education, Surrey: Heinemann Educational
Wood, E and Attfield, J. Play, Learning and the Early Years Curriculum, Devon: Paul Chapman
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