Play in Early Childhood Education

Authored by: James E. Johnson , Serap Sevimli-Celik , Monirah Al-Mansour

Handbook of Research on the Education of Young Children

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415884341
eBook ISBN: 9780203841198
Adobe ISBN: 9781136897023


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Play in early childhood education (ECE) is a very broad topic that continues to generate much discussion and debate. Slogans such as “play is the business of childhood” or “play is the child’s way of learning” are still heard but they are becoming less convincing. Voicing slogans such as these often encourages those who are opposed to play in education to dismiss it on the grounds that the idea seems too broad and vague to be a valid and useful basis for teaching and learning. It doesn’t help when ECE programs claiming to be play-centered lack a thoughtful rationale for their play policies and practices or when low-level, unchallenging activities called “play” abound in their indoor and outdoor environments. This threatens the place of play in the ECE by inviting misguided attacks on it and by encouraging educators to devalue play’s importance as a context and medium for development during the early years (Zigler & Bishop-Josef, 2004).

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