Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum

Books

Elizabeth Wood & Jane Attfield

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • About the Authors

    Elizabeth Wood is Reader in Early Childhood Education at the University of Exeter. She teaches on a range of post-graduate programmes and runs in-service courses for teachers and other early years practitioners. Elizabeth has co-directed two ESRC funded research projects with Neville Bennett: Reception Teachers' Theories of Play (1995-97) and Progression and Continuity in the Early Years (1999-2000). She was involved in the JUDE project on literacy and underachievement, which spans Key Stages 1 to 4. She has authored books and articles based on her research interests in play, young children's learning, early childhood pedagogy, and underachievement.

    Jane Attfield is an experienced early years teacher who has taught in nursery and infant classes in New Guinea, England and Australia. She was the coordinator of a Local Authority funded Play Project at a school in Dorset. Jane completed her Master of Education degree at Exeter University, and her research into the Play Project is used substantially in the book.

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    Dedication

    For Liz and David, two master players

    Preface

    We were delighted when we were asked to write the second edition of this book. Much has happened since the first edition in the arenas of policy development, research and practice. Early childhood education is at the heart of policy-making agendas in England and many other developed and developing countries. Concerns with the quality of provision have sparked a massive international research endeavour, which is seeking to identify effective provision and practice in different cultures, and in different early childhood settings. There is also a thriving international play scholarship which ranges broadly across many different themes that are central to high-quality provision and effective teaching and learning. Contemporary research studies in the field of play are exciting in their foci, innovative in their methods and contentious in the eclecticism of their theoretical frameworks. The field remains open to debate, discussion and argument regarding the role and value of play in learning and development. Nevertheless, there have been many practical outcomes that are of direct relevance to practitioners as they strive towards improving the quality of play.

    This second edition reflects these trends, and draws substantially on academic and practitioner research. Guided by feedback from readers of the first edition, we have aimed to integrate theory and practice throughout the book. The first four chapters focus mainly on theoretical frameworks, which explain different aspects of learning, the benefits of different forms of play, and a rationale for a play-based curriculum and pedagogy. The second half of the book develops the theme of creating unity between playing, learning and teaching. We have highlighted ongoing issues, questions and dilemmas that practitioners encounter, and have provided many practical examples to show how these have been addressed.

    The first edition was based substantially on Jane's research for her Master of Education degree. Her observations and documentation of children's play-based activities remain just as relevant. In addition, we are privileged to present the practice-based evidence from the work of early childhood practitioners who have been involved in in-service and modular degree programmes at Exeter University. Our thanks are due to all these dedicated and enthusiastic practitioners, and especially to Joanna Cook, Amanda Kersey, Charlotte Rowland, Sheena Wright, Diann Cudmore and Jaqui Bamford for their observations and analyses of children and adults at play. The practitioners that Elizabeth has worked with have provided inspiration in their ongoing commitment to valuing, defending and improving play in their settings. They form a resilient core of enthusiastic proponents for play, and active resisters of policy directives that are not in tune with how young children learn.

    We hope that this second edition will inform and inspire practitioners, provoke debate, encourage reflection and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong playing and learning.

    ElizabethWood and JaneAttfield
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    Author Index


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