Young children may be missing out on ‘pretend’ games like pirates and spacemen due to the demands of the school curriculum, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The project, led by Dr Sue Rogers at the University of Plymouth, found that reception classes were not always designed to meet the needs of 4-5 year olds. ‘Children of this age learn to make friends as well as to use their imagination through role play,’ says Dr Rogers. ‘We know that they are capable of sustained and complex imaginative play and that capturing and engaging their interest is essential. Unfortunately, pressures on time and space, as well as the need to teach literacy, means that playing at shops, pirates and hospitals is difficult to fit into the timetable.’
The researchers made a total of 71 visits to groups of four year olds in schools from three contrasting areas in the South West of England. A total of 144 children and six teachers and six classroom assistants took part in the project. As well as observing how indoor and outdoor play was organised in the three schools, the researchers asked the children about their favourite games and used drawings, stories, role play scenarios and photographs to build a picture of their perspective on role play. ‘Listening to children’s views on use of space and lay-out could raise the value of play in the curriculum and reduce potential tensions between children and adults,’ explains Dr Rogers.
Becky Gammon | alfa
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