Reconsidering the Role of Play in Early Childhood: Towards Social Justice and Equity—a compilation of current play research in early childhood education and care—challenges, disrupts, and reexamines conventional perspectives on play. By highlighting powerful and provocative studies from around the world that attend to the complexities and diverse contexts of children’s play, the issues of social justice and equity related to play are made visible. This body of work is framed by the phenomenological viewpoint that presumes equity is best confronted and improved through developing an expanded understanding of play in its multiple variations and dimensions. The play studies explore the potential and troubles of play in teaching and learning, children’s agency in play, the actual spaces where children play, and different perspectives of play based on identity and culture. The editors invite readers to use the research as an inspiration to reconsider their conceptions of play and to take action to work for a world where all children have access to play.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Early Child Development and Care.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Is play a privilege or a right? And what’s our responsibility? On the role of play for equity in early childhood education Introduction Part I: Potential and troubles of play in teaching and learning 1. Block play: spatial language with preschool and school-aged children 2. Early childhood curriculum development: the role of play in building self-regulatory capacity in young children 3. Understanding and supporting block play: Video observation research on preschoolers’ block play to identify features associated with the development of abstract thinking 4. The relative emphasis of play rules between experienced and trainee caregivers of toddlers 5. Influencing factors on professional attitudes towards risk-taking in children’s play: a narrative review 6. Follow the leader: attending to the curriculum making potential of pre-schoolers Part II: Children’s agency and play 7. Playing at violence: lock-down drills, ‘bad guys’ and the construction of ‘acceptable’ play in early childhood 8. Where is my stuff? Conceptualizing Hip Hop as ‘play’ 9. They’re lovin’ it: how preschool children mediated their funds of knowledge into dramatic play 10. Civic action and play: examples from Maori, Aboriginal Australian and Latino communities 11. Rethinking young children’s digital game play outside of the home as a means of coping with modern life Part III: Troubling spaces for play 12. Playing with power: an outdoor classroom exploration 13. Where do the children play?: An investigation of the intersection of nature, early childhood education and play 14. Sandboxes, loose parts, and playground equipment: a descriptive exploration of outdoor play environments 15. ‘They get enough of play at home’: a Bakhtinian interpretation of the dialogic space of public school preschool 16. Rooms with gender: physical environment and play culture in kindergarten Part IV: Expanding play perspectives 17. Children’s engagement in play at home: a parent’s role in supporting play opportunities during early childhood 18. Parents’ perceptions of play: a comparative study of spousal perspectives 19. The social kindergartener: comparing children’s perspectives of full- and half-day kindergarten 20. Interpersonal fields of play 21. The Black baby doll doesn’t fit the disconnect between early childhood diversity policy, early childhood educator practice, and children’s play 22. Using cross-cultural conversations to contextualize understandings of play: a multinational study
Julie Nicholson is Associate Professor of Practice at Mills College, Oakland, USA and the Director of the Center for Play Research. She is also the Deputy Director for WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies.
Debora Basler Wisneski is the John T. Langan Community Chair in Early Childhood Education at the University of Nebraska Omaha, USA and the Director of the Early Childhood Inclusive Program.