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Keeping It Real: Making Space for Play in Early Education Policy and Practice

Needham, Martin (2019) Keeping It Real: Making Space for Play in Early Education Policy and Practice. In: Children’s Self-determination in the Context of Early Childhood Education and Services. Springer, pp. 77-91. ISBN 978-3-030-14556-9

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Abstract

This chapter considers how the pedagogical framing of preschool activity as a preparation for a school, may be in conflict with an international consensus advocating allowing children greater control of some of their activities in preschool. The first sometimes promotes an early start to more formal learning, while the second proposes that personal responsibility and self-control and can lead to longer lasting benefits resulting from preschool experiences. A case study of changing policy and practice in Kazakhstan is used to illustrate the tensions between these two models of learning. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with practitioners in the preschool environment were used to explore how national standards documents interact with underlying beliefs about the nature of learning in the formation of practice. The findings suggest that, as in other countries, the intention to increase child-led pedagogy may be inhibited by existing classroom-based expectations of children’s participation. The chapter considers how participatory research in play environments might help to increase awareness of the value of child-led play by focusing increased attention on how play supports learning.

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