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The Relationship Between Play and Academics

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on 20 February 2017

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Transcript of The Relationship Between Play and Academics

The Relationship Between Play and Academics
Carrie, Melissa, and Sandra
Over the past few decades there has been a drastic reduction in play opportunities within early learning environments.
Some say this is directly related to the increasing pressures for children to perform well on standardized and government tests. Often, teachers find themselves teaching specific skills through a prescriptive curricula. As a result of these actions children's play, including outdoor play, has been in steady decline.

Have you had experience with the datafication of early childhood education? If so, when and where?

What were the results on your practice and how did it affect your students' learning?
Teachers Role
Social interaction and collaboration vs. individual play.
Individualization and individual differences can be supported in play
Children are intrinsically motivated to play, therefore, teachers can support and encourage their play, as well as connect play to curricular experiences.
Play Facilitates Inclusion
Although children may vary in their abilities, they are more alike than different. A common ground is the need to participate in a school setting that encourages friendship and play. When playing together, children share stories, activities and play that serve to deepen their connection to each other and to the learning community as a whole.

As they play, children learn to appreciate the contributions that each individual brings to the group, no matter what their level of development. When children with special needs participate in social play, these play experiences will impact their sense of belonging to the learning community (Dorel & McDonald, 2015).
What is Play?
play and academics
History of Play in Early Childhood Education

The Role of Play in Academic Development

More and more research is coming out around early brain development and the role of play in promoting higher level cognitive thinking.

"Play activity supports cognitive-linguistic abilities and skills that prepare children for learning to read. Play-literacy research includes a third set of findings connecting play to the cognitive-lin- guistic bedrocks of learning to read and write, namely phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge, and oral-language abilities. Studies linking play and language skills are the more prolific, and they highlight the benefits of play activity for vocabulary growth, syntactic complexity, the generation of cohe- sive texts, and metalanguage." (Galda, Pellegrini, and Cox 1989; Pellegrini 1984; Williamson and Silvern 1988)

'First, play is intrinsically motivated, self chosen, self directed and players are always free to quit; second, play must be freely chosen, is an activity in which means are more valued than ends; third, play must be pleasurable, guided by mental rules; fourth, play is nonliteral; and fifth, play is actively engaged in by the player.'
Lisa Laur (2011)
The role of play in children's learning was given greater attention in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. During this time four theories, of why and how children participated in the act of play, emerged..... surplus energy theory, recreation theory, instinctual theory and recapitulation theory.
Surplus Energy Theory: Play is used to burn off excess energy in children.
Recreation Theory: Play offers child an opportunity to recover from hard work.
Instinctual Theory: Play is an inherited trait.
Recapitulation Theory: Certain play activities can be traced back to the survival activities of early humans.
Early Classification of Play by Mildred B. Parten

Unoccupied Play. The child is not actually “playing” but watches anything that happens to catch his interest. He may play with his own body, move around, remain in one location, or follow a teacher.

Onlooker Behavior. This stage is termed “behavior” instead of play because this child is content in watching other children.

Solitary Independent Play. Children prefer to play by themselves and are not comfortable interacting with other children. They may play apart with chosen toys, yet within speaking distance, and demonstrate little interest in making contact. Contact may consist of grabbing other children’s toys when the opportunity exists.

Parallel Play. This stage is also known as adjacent play or social coaction. Children occupy space near others, but seldom share toys or materials. They may talk, but each has their own conversation and there is no attempt to communicate with each other. As an example, one child may talk about going to the circus while another interrupts about going to a fast food restaurant.

Associate Play. Children lend, borrow, and take toys from others. However, it’s still “every child for himself.” At this stage, the children are beginning to engage in close personal contact, however, they still consider their own viewpoint as most important. Children are not yet ready to participate in teams or group work, but there should be opportunities for group work so they can gradually learn how to communicate their needs.

Cooperative Play. This stage is the highest form of children working and playing together. They share, take turns, and allow some children to serve as leaders for the group. For example, one child may be the policeman, another a nurse, while another is the mother. In cooperative play, three-year-olds play best with approximately three other children; five-year-olds can play successfully with approximately five children.
There are many variations on the definition of play. We have included three for you to compare and contrast. Take time to reflect on the following questions....

What does the word play mean to you?
When do you feel playful?
What does play look like in your classroom?

The behavior is not fully functional in the form or context in which it is expressed
The behavior is spontaneous, voluntary, intentional, pleasurable, rewarding, reinforcing and autotelic
The behavior is incomplete, exaggerated, awkward, precocious or involves behavior with patterns with modified form, sequencing or targeting
The behavior is preformed repeatedly in a similar, but not rigidly stereotyped form
The behavior is initiated with an animal (or person) is adequately fed, clothed, healthy and not under stress
Roskos & Christie (2011)
'Play is an attitude. It is a stance that leaves one open, curious, joyful and determined.'
Susan Harris MacKay (2012)

Although this classification of play was developed in the early 1930's many scholars ad educators use it today.

Can you see examples of these types of play in your own classroom?
What are the benefits to classifying different types of play?
“Play allows teachers to interact with the students and help expand their knowledge by asking questions, creating discussion on their actions and findings, and using behavior reflections (Kemple et al., 2015).”

Play has been shown to enhance children’s school readiness, their adjustment to school, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills (Miller, et al., 2009)
Foundation for future learning
Play will prepare young children
for future academic learning
How would play in your classroom prepare children for later academic success?
"The acquisition of vocabulary in children in this study is better in an environment that gives the pupils opportunities for taking part in meaningful joint activities (like play) in which the need for new words emerges from the activity (Van Oers and Duijkers, 2013)".
As Vygotsky put it “In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself (1978).”

Other Relevant Information
Carrie Hughes

Sandra Patton

Melissa Van Bergen
What is Play?

Other Relevant Information
I was tasked with researching the area of play.....definitions, history and how it connects with academics.

Through this process I found myself drawn to the scientific research on the role of play in healthy brain development. It is my belief that play will gain value in the field of education based on this relatively new research on cognitive development in the early years. As theory becomes supported by scientific data I am hopeful that early childhood education programs will again be filled with quality opportunities for play. It is through the foundation of play that young children will grow and develop their academic skills.
For Example, Scott, a 4-year-old child with disabilities and peer interaction difficulties, sometimes interacts with his peers during teacher-directed activities:

Within the manipulatives center, Scott’s teacher sees him watching LaShante play with wooden blocks.
His teacher skillfully encourages him, "Remember how
we ask others to share toys?" Scott looks at LaShante
and moves closer while saying, "Me play?" LaShante says, "sure, we can build a house!" while handing him some blocks. Scott and LaShante then co-construct a pretend house while talking and giggling.
Brown and his colleagues (2001 ) have noted that integrated play groups increase peer-related social competence in children with disabilities and has positive effects on young children’s acceptance by peers.
Play and Academics
The Decline in Play
by Peter Gray

This video touches on many aspects of play.....history, decline and the relationship between the decline in play and children's mental health. How does this video connect to play and academics?

Yelland describes that productive diversity is “based on the concept of cohesion through diversity and focuses on the dynamic relationship of differences in the establishment of common ground (2005).”

In early childhood education the best medium to facilitate productive diversity in the classroom is play. Of course it is not just a free-for-all type of play. Early childhood educators must intentionally develop an array of strategies to facilitate diversity through play.
Play and Diversity
What strategies would you include to facilitate diversity?
Play and Diversity
Baldwin, J. L., Adams, S. M., & Kelly, M. K. (2009). Science at the center: An emergent, standards-based, child-centered framework for early learners.Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(1), 71-77.

Brown, W. H., Odom, S. L.., Conroy, M. A. (2001). An intervention hierarchy for promoting young children’s peer interactions in natural environments. Topics in early childhood special education. Vol: 21(3) 162-175.

Bonawitz, E., Shafto, P., Gweon, H., Goodman, N. D., Spelke, E., & Schulz, L. (2011). The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Instruction limits spontaneous exploration and discovery. Cognition, 120(3), 322-330.

De Haan, A. K., Elbers, E., & Leseman, P. P. (2014). Teacher-and child-managed academic activities in preschool and kindergarten and their influence on children's gains in emergent academic skills. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 28(1), 43-58.

Dorel, T. G. and McDonald, D. (2015). Promoting inclusion through play. Early years, The journal of the Texas association for the education of young children. Vol. 26(2),.13-16.

Kemple, K.M., Oh, J.H, Porter, D. (2015). Playing at school: An inquiry approach to using an experiential play lab in an early childhood teacher education course. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 36(3), 250-265.

Lauer, L. (2011). Play deprivation: Is it happening in your school setting?. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED524739.pdf

Lillard, A. S., Lerner, M. D., Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., Smith, E. D., & Palmquist, C. M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence. Psychological bulletin, 139(1), 1.

Harris-MacKay, S. (2012). What about play: The value in investing in children's play. Portland, OR. The Center for Children's Learning.

Hirsh-Pasek, K, & Golinkoff, M. R. (2008). A Mandate For Playful Learning in Preschool [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from http://www.researchconnections.org/files/childcare/pdf/KathyHirsh-PasekPresentation.pdf

Miller, E., Almon, J. (2009). Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School, College Park, MD: Alliance for Childhood

Roskos K. and Christie J. (2011). Play literacy nexus and the importance of evidence based techniques in the classroom. American Journal of Play. Vol. 4 (2), p. 204-224.

Snow, K. (2011). Debunking the Play vs. Learning Dichotomy, National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC. Retrieved May 15, 2016, from http://www.naeyc.org/content/research-news-you-can-use-play-vs-learning

Sundberg, B., & Ottander, C. (2013). The conflict within the role: A longitudinal study of preschool student teachers' developing competence in and attitudes towards science teaching in relation to developing a professional role. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 34(1), 80-94.

Tannock, M. T. (2008). Rough and tumble play: An investigation of the perceptions of educators and young children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(4), 357-361.

Thomlin, C.R. (2007). Play: A historical review. Early Childhood News. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_print.aspx?ArticleId=618

Van Oers, B., Duijkers, D. (2013). Teaching in a play-based curriculum: Theory, practice and evidence of developmental education for young children J. Curriculum Studies, Vol. 45 (4), 511-534.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Yelland, N. (Ed.). (2005). Critical Issues in Early Childhood Education. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.
Jean Piaget.
When researching play, I found that play (with quality educator's guidance) helps facilitate inclusion and diversity. Promoting inclusion through play is very relevant to my identified issue of how academics in being pushed more and more into early childhood education and is often not developmentally appropriate, yet the very developmentally appropriate activity of social play is not seen as important.

There are many reasons play is not only developmentally appropriate but necessary in early childhood education and two good reasons are that play facilitates inclusion of children of varying ability levels and accommodates diversity.
How can play and academics be reconciled? Do you see the relationship in your practice?
Where do we go from here?
Can all the manifestations of play we have seen interact with academics?
I love thinking about the successful marriage of play and academics. Though it is something that I think about often, I was excited to see that it is still a developing field among researchers. I was intrigued when thinking about the challenges of a preschool learning experience paired with a more traditional elementary education setting.

The relationship of direct instruction and discovery learning is not black and white. Both methods have much to offer the learning journey, however, my research and personal experience suggests that only through a combination of techniques can we help children grow into curious, confident, courageous learners.
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