Pedagogy of play in ECCE settings
The aim of this research project was to explore the views and roles of childcare practitioners, with regards to the pedagogy of play, in early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings. The objectives were to examine the practitioners’ views on the context of play in the early childhood curriculum, and their role at work in the promotion of play. The second objective was to identify practitioners’ perceptions of the impact for children who do not participate in play. This objective also reviewed the possible barriers that hinder play becoming part of a child’s daily routine. The researcher chose to undertake the research project in order to obtain a greater understanding of what barriers existed in the early years that hinder play for children and what solutions, if any, could be put in place to prevent these barriers becoming a problem in the future. The specific method of research that was used in this study was by the means of structured interviews with a small number of childcare practitioners and managers in various early years settings. Overall, the results were conclusive that childcare practitioners do have a significant role which is essential to the development of play in the early years educational settings. However, it was evident that practitioners may lack the basic knowledge of the concept and importance of play due to the number of practitioners not being adequately qualified in the sector. It was also mentioned that play should be included in the curriculum as it is one of the main ways children learn. It was emphasised that play has many benefits to a child’s overall development such as: learning practical life skills, it allows practitioners to identify a child’s personality traits, supports children to advance their development and relationship with peers, helps children to learn about themselves and allows them to develop friendships with their fellow peers, aids children to develop particular skills, such as, language, and fine and gross motor skills. Secondly, a number of barriers were evident in the early years, which contribute to difficulties in participating in play these were: limited resources, materials, time and the vast amount of paperwork. It also included the daily tasks that are required to be accomplished by the practitioner such as cleaning, observations and weekly planners. Following on from this, lack of materials and not enough freedom for children to choose their activities and time constraints were also considered possible barriers that hinder play as well as practitioners being under qualified and not understanding the importance of play. The transition from home to an early years’ service was also a factor, practitioners undermining the value of play and finally the weather for outdoor play. It was apparent that these barriers could have implications on the child’s development, such as: speech or physical activity, children can fail to interact with their peers or try new things and could affect their overall decision makings. It was noted that these barriers can lead to a lack of self confidence in children, affect relationships, and inhibits their response to emotions or feelings. Finally, it was noted that practitioners require more supports and training to ensure that play can be further developed.
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