This accessible and focused text for early childhood studies and early years students takes the reader through a detailed exploration of the nature of play. It begins by examining definitions of play and supports students to understand some of the key concepts of play. It goes on to consider the benefits of play, creativity and risk and the contexts for play. The final section considers children's rights and the adult role in the facilitation of play. Interactive activities and theory focus features are included throughout, helping students to arrive at an understanding of their own practice in relation to play.

Play and Social Development

Play and social development

Through reading this chapter, you will:

  • explore play from a social and ecological perspective;
  • consider the importance of others and the tensions of social connection and space framing activity;
  • reflect on the relevance of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development and issues of flow in relation to self and others at play;
  • explore concepts of enculturation and social rhythms in play;
  • reflect on issues of rough and tumble play, emotional containment and enculturation.


Play has for many years been linked to children's social development and the process of learning to live with others in a social community or society. Recall here our discussions in Chapter 3 and Plato's emphasis on play as important to the creation of a cultured society. Plato argued that through ...

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