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The importance of play in early years education

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    ( Microsoft’s clip art )

    What is play?

    Frequently, we hear the word drama around us but do we truly cognize what drama is?

    Prior to these yearss, there are many definitions about drama. Merely two theoreticians, which are Mitchell and Mason ( 1948 ) had already stated more than 30 definitions of drama ( Dockett & A ; Fleer, 2002 ) . There is no right or incorrect for the definitions of drama and you can utilize these definitions as mentions to your pattern. Here are some definitions that could be utile to give you a better thought on what drama is:

    •The Welsh Assembly Government ( 2002 ) had defined drama in their drama policy as ; “ Play encompasses kids ‘s behavior which is freely chosen, personally directed and per se motivated. It is performed for no external end or wages, and is a cardinal and built-in portion of healthy development – non merely for single kids, but besides for the society in which they live. ”

    •Learning and drama are basically linked to children’s individuality, their sense of ego and their ability to go independent scholars ( Bowman et al. , 2000 ) .

    •Fromberg ( 1992 ) stated that drama can be classified into a few characteristic which are symbolic, meaningful, active, enjoyable, voluntary and episodic ( Dockett and Fleer, 2002 ) .

    Why drama?

    ‘Many parents expected that their kids will ‘work’ when they go to school, non ‘play’ ( Manning & A ; Sharp, 1977 ) .

    Those few words sound familiar? There are many parents or grownups that take on the positions that playing is non a signifier of larning to kids as they believe that kids need to ‘work’ , non play ( NICHED, 2014 ) . Even early years’ practicians that are non exposed to the importance of drama could lodge to this one position. So, as a new practician, you have to cognize what play can make to kids and believe me, you would be surprised to happen out how many things they could larn merely by playing!

    In the Early Years Foundation Stage ( EYFS ) , there is an grounds of the importance of educational drama in one of the cardinal features of effectual acquisition and instruction ; playing and exploring ( DfE, 2012 ) . There are many types of drama ; function drama, symbolic drama, unsmooth and tumble drama, heuristic drama, inventive drama, manipulative drama and structured drama that we can see our kids taking portion in it and each of it plays a function in a child’s development.

    Below are a few grounds why drama is of import for kids:

    •Allows kids to develop their creativeness and imaginativeness ( Ginsburg et al. , 2007 ) .

    •Allows kids to make and research their universe.

    •Give kids better concentration degree ( Wood & A ; Attfield, 2005 ) .

    In function drama, for illustration, we can take this chance to work on children’s cooperation with their friends. You can non merely verbally teach your kids to collaborate and possibly, they could follow your direction but do they truly understand the construct of it? It would non be the same if you teach it through drama.

    Merely fix a subject for the kids, in this instance, I chose to make a eating house function drama with my kids. Simply fix some stuffs and equipment you think should be in a eating house and allow your kids decide on the functions and how are they traveling to adorn their ‘restaurant’ .

    ( Microsoft’s clip art )

    Giving kids the chance to be after for their drama together will heighten communicating between them and besides convey out some children’s leading accomplishment. Children will work together to be after the bill of fare of the eating house, their stuffs and equipment, ornament of the eating house and the function that each kid will take. This already shows that the kids are collaborating as everyone needs to hold with one determination in order to make the function drama.

    ( See appendix 1 )

    Other than that, heuristic drama can besides expose your kids to centripetal drama and besides let them to research their ain senses. Take a basket and set in a mixture of natural and found objects like pebbles, foliages, bells, keys and more. Put the basket in a broad country and allow your kids explore it freely as they want! Sit in a corner to give kids confidence of your presence and detect how they play with the objects. You will be surprised to see how your kids react to noises created by the objects and how they combine several objects to play as one. Please make sure you have clean objects and stuffs for the kids and be certain to non go forth the kids entirely with the objects as it could be unsafe.

    ( See appendix 5 )

    Your Function

    Play is by and large known as something that kids do of course and spontaneously. So, you might oppugn yourself what are your functions and accomplishments needed if children’s drama is natural? As a practician, you could act upon a child’s drama through a few things like clip, play environment and stuffs ( Play Wales, 2013 ) .


    Children’s drama does non hold to be expensive or complicated. What you can make is really simple. Just give them adequate clip to bask their drama aboard with their friends. You have to do certain there is clip for drama among all the other activities like making worksheets and composing. Make certain you are at that place when you are needed by the kids but you should non be commanding their drama.


    Children’s drama environment is another facet that you should be cognizant about. A kid needs infinite for them to run about and it is of import for their civilization and their sense of belonging and infinite ( Play Wales, 2013 ; CS4L, 2011 ) . You can supply a drama country for the kids or merely travel the furniture off to do room for more drama chances.

    If you have thought of spliting the drama country, puting a clear boundary between different countries of drama ; dramatic drama corner, quiet drama corner etc. can assist kids to concentrate on their drama and back up their protection of mutualist infinite ( Hoorn et al. , 2006 ) .

    Another issue of children’s drama environment is safety. Other than doing certain you prepare a safe environment for the kids, you have to be more observant and knowing, particularly if you are taking attention of younger kids.

    Give kids regular entree to your setting’s out-of-door environment. Other than physical benefits, kids could develop their societal and emotional development excessively ( Pica, 2008 ) . They will besides larn to appreciate the out-of-doorss as kids their age learn a batch through their senses. There are tonss of different things for them to see, hear, touch, odor and even gustatory sensation at the out-of-doorss. This could give you an thought on how to learn your kids about their senses and the nature!


    It is of import for practicians to supply assortment of stuffs for kids to larn while they played. These stuffs should be in a topographic point where kids can entree to them freely and readily available for kids to utilize.

    Materials should besides include natural, reproduction and existent objects in order to back up children’s holistic development.

    Of all the things above, the most of import thing for you function is that you should move as a usher and perceiver, non the instigator of children’s drama.

    Measuring Children’s Play

    There are many methods that you can utilize to measure children’s drama. “Ongoing appraisal is an built-in portion of the acquisition and developmental process” ( DfE 2012: 10 ) . One of the methods is observation.

    Observations of kids have long existed in the early old ages as to be after and form efficaciously, as a cardinal to single appraisals and in the acknowledgment of children’s manner of acquisition ( Nutbrown, cited in Nutbrown & A ; Clough 2010: 99 ) .

    Observing is a manner of us, practicians, to reflect, measure and develop ain pattern. By detecting, you can roll up tonss of information about kids where we can see a kid as a alone person and so, you can be after to develop each child’s involvements and ability. This is really of import as every child’s demands and ability is different ( DfE, 2012 ) .

    The consequences of observation can besides take to documentation where practicians can supply grounds for the procedure of children’s acquisition and non merely the results ( Carr et al. , 2009 ) . This grounds can supply kids with memories of their activities and maintain practicians informed with children’s patterned advance.

    Inclusive pattern

    ‘The EYFS seeks to supply equality of chance and anti-discriminatory pattern, guaranting that every kid is included and supported’ . ( Dfe, 2012, p.2 )

    While you want to integrate drama in your pattern, you should ever retrieve to include all your kids! Think about any disablements or troubles your kid might hold and if they can make all the activity you have planned before you start implementing it.

    Understand your children’s civilization and how it influenced their development and acquisition. Culture is how a individual behaves, understanding the universe and it is learned by each new coevals through socialization ( Cronin & A ; Jones, n.d ) . What you can make is larn about your children’s civilization through pass oning with people that associate with them ; parents, households. Avoid pretermiting a kid merely because you could non understand what she/he is seeking to state you. Observed them and watch their organic structure linguistic communication.

    Provide extra aid for kids who have disablements or with delayed developments. Example, in an activity of patterning clay/dough, you can supply molds for kids who do non cognize how to pattern yet.

    Harmonizing to the Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC ) , Article 12 required us to give kids chance to show their sentiments and affect them in the determination devising procedure ( UNICEF, 1989 ) . You can acquire to cognize about your kids and be able to supply them their demands more suitably through the listening civilization.

    “In the impulse of cognizing and be aftering drama for kids, we may be in danger of overlooking the fact that kids have their ain definitions of play” ( Wood & A ; Attfield 2005: 7 ) .

    Theorists’ position on drama

    There have been many theoreticians that viewed drama as an of import facet in children’s acquisition and development. Jean Piaget and Friedrich Froebel are among the theoreticians that influenced the children’s present drama and acquisition.

    Jean Piaget was one of the theoreticians that take children’s drama earnestly ( ASTRA, 2014 ) . Piaget believed that kids have 3 phases of drama which are pattern drama, symbolic drama and games with regulations. He besides believed that drama can be used to get the better of children’s egoism that exist in his 2nd phase of children’s development theory which is the preoperational phase. Egocentrism is defined as children’s inability to see something from person else’s position ( McLeod, 2010 ) . A drama activity that requires 2 or more participant required societal interaction. Through repeated interaction with drama, kids will easy come to the apprehension that others have their ain thoughts excessively.

    Froebel is another research worker that found the first kindergarten and he promoted the child-centre attack. Many of his thought had shaped what we call today the free flow drama. He believed that kids needed realistic experiences and that there is a connexion between drama and acquisition ( BHN, 2011 ) . He besides recognised the importance of out-of-door drama and the usage of natural stuffs in children’s drama environment.

    Throughout the brochure, we have given you an thought of what drama is, the benefits, and how you can utilize to learn your kids. Now it is up to you to develop your ain pattern about drama and seek to implement drama lessons in your scene! Remember to take things easy as there is so much to larn about the early old ages.

    Most of all, enjoy!

    Thank you! ! !

    Mentions list

    ( Books )

    Carr, M. , Smith, A.B. , Duncan, J. , Jones, C. , Lee, W. and Marshall, K. ( 2009 ) Learning in the Devising: Disposition and Design in Early Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

    Department for Education ( 2012 ) Development Matters in Early Old ages Foundation Stage. London: Crown.

    Dockett, S & A ; Fleer, M. ( 2002 ) Play and Pedagogy in Early Childhood: Bending the Rules. Australia: Nelson Australia Pty Limited.

    Hoorn, J. Nourot, P. Scales, B. & A ; Alward, K. ( 2006 ) Play at the centre of the course of study. Ohio: Pearson.

    Nutbrown, C. & A ; Clough, P. ( 2010 ) Inclusion in the early old ages. London: Sage Publications.

    Wood, E. & A ; Attfield, J. ( 2005 ) Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum. London: Sage Publications.

    Wood, E. ( 2013 ) Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum. London: Sage Publications.

    Forests, A. ( 2013 ) Child- Initiated drama and Learning: Planning for possibilities in the early old ages. New York: Routledege.

    ( Web sites )

    American Specialty Toy Retailing Association ( ASTRA ) ( 2014 ) Piaget and Play. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Accessed: 8 May 2014 ) .

    Bonnington House Nursery ( BHN ) ( 2011 ) The Importance of Learning through Play – A small spot of history. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // through Play – download.pdf ( Accessed: 8 May 2014 ) .

    Canadian Sport for Life ( CS4L ) Helping Children Play – The Adult Role. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: //–-adult-role-2 ( Accessed: 3 May 2014 ) .

    Cronin, S. & A ; Jones, E ( n.d ) Play and Cultural Differences. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Accessed: 4 May 2014 ) .

    Ginsburg, K. & A ; The Committee on Communications and Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health ( 2007 ) The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ArticleID=275 ( Accessed: 26 April 2014 ) .

    National Institute of Childcare and Education ( NICHED ) ( 2014 ) The Importance of Play. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Accessed: 3 May 2014 ) .

    Pica, R. ( 2008 ) Take it Outside! Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ArticleID=275 ( Accessed: 7 May 2014 )

    Play Therapy United Kingdom ( PTUK ) ( 2007 ) Definition of Play. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Accessed: 3 May 2014 ) .

    Play Wales ( 2013 ) The function of grownups in children’s drama. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // SHEETS/role of grownups in childrens play.pdf ( Accessed: 6 May 2014 ) .

    UNICEF ( 1989 ) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Accessed: 5 May 2014 ) .

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