1st Edition

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education Psychoanalytic, Attachment, and Developmental Perspectives

Edited By Marilyn Charles, Jill Bellinson Copyright 2019
    268 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education presents various theories of play and demonstrates how it serves communicative, developmental, and relational functions, highlighting the importance and development of the capacity to play in terms useful to early childhood educators. The book explicitly links trauma, development, and interventions in the early childhood classroom specifically for teachers of young children, offering accessible information that can help teachers better understand the meanings of children’s expressive acts. 

    Contributors from education, psychoanalysis, and developmental psychology explore techniques of play, how cultural influences affect how children play, the effect of trauma on play, factors that interfere with the ability to play, and how to apply these ideas in the classroom. They also discuss the relevance of ideas about playfulness for teachers and other professionals. 

    The Imprtance of Play in Early Childhood Education will be of great interest to teachers, psychoanalysts, and psychotherapists as well as play therapists and developmental psychologists.

    Introduction—Marilyn Charles THEORIES OF PLAY 1. Child Development through Play — Stephanie Creekpaum 2. Pretend Play in the Classroom: Helping Children Grow — Sandra W. Russ & Alexis W. Lee UNDERSTANDING PLAY 3. Play as Communication — Brenda Lovegrove Lepisto 4. From Reaction to Reflection: Mentalizating in Early Childhood Education — Norka Malberg PLAY IN THE CLASSROOM 5. Play in the Emotional and Cognitive Life of a Preschooler — Steve Tuber 6. Being a Playful Teacher — Peter Blake 7. Mine! No, MINE!! Interaction in Children’s Play — Jill Bellinson TECHNIQUES OF PLAY 8. Art-making Experiences for Young Children Affected by Traumatic Experiences — Ann-Marie Mott 9. Young Children’s Musicality: Relating with Rhythm — Sophie Alcock 10. Promoting Identity Development through Memory Narratives — Elaine Reese and Tia Neha SPECIALIZED NEEDS FOR PLAY 11. Trauma and Identity — Marilyn Charles 12. Working with Difficult and Hard to Understand Children — Ionas Sapountzis CULTURE AND PLAY 13. Creating Reflective Space in the Classroom – Ana Archangelo and Fabio Camargo Bandera Villela 14. Cultural Issues in Relation to Play for Teachers — Athena Drewes 15. Culture and Play as Key Elements of Identity Formation and Academic Performance for Children of Color in Primary Education — Kirkland C. Vaughans and Renee Vaughans TEACHERS AND PLAY 16. Engaging Children in Healing Work — Michael O’Loughlin 17. Teacher Stress: Impact, Challenges, and Solutions — Deborah Mugno and Jennifer Reid Afterword —Jill Bellinson


    Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., ABPP, is a psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Austen Riggs Center, and Professor, University of Monterrey (UDEM), with a special interest in the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Recent books include Psychoanalysis and Literature: The Stories We Live, Working with Trauma, and Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 

    Jill Bellinson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City, USA. She has served as psychological consultant to preschools and child welfare agencies for more than 30 years and is author of Children’s Use of Board Games in Psychotherapy and numerous papers on psychodynamic treatment of children and adults.

    ‘The role of play therapy and a psychoanalytic understanding of how early childhood trauma influences the way a child learns to learn is at the forefront of this major contribution to the field of early childhood education. The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education is written for the frontline educator: the classroom teacher.’

    Annie Lee Jones PhD, adjunct professor and co-chair, Committee on Ethnicity, Race, Class, Culture and Language (CERCCL), New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

    ‘Trauma in early childhood, including complex trauma and its transgenerational transmission, disrupts and precludes secure-base attachments and healthy development. To the extent that young children are "resilient," it is due to supportive and understanding relationships with parents, teachers, and early care-givers. This compilation of insightful chapters contributed by psychoanalysts and early childhood experts is a "must-read" for all who work with young children, promoting attunement, an understanding of the meaning of behavior and play, and preventing "burn out."’

    Thomas F. Barrett, PhD, psychologist, child psychoanalyst, consultant and professor of IECMH

    ‘Early stress, adversity, and trauma impacts an unthinkable number of young children in the United States. We know that children exposed to uncontrollable stress may suffer effects that may last well into adulthood and impact not only learning, but life-long health. Educating all adults who touch children’s lives in how to buffer the effects of stress and trauma equips those adults with the tools they need to make a significant impact in a child’s life. This volume provides those invaluable tools and insights.’

    Linda C. Mayes, MD, Arnold Gesell professor and director, Yale Child Study Center

    'In their own unique approach, each article compels teachers to notice and engage with the active and dynamic communications of a child's play. Particularly compelling is the specific focus on early childhood education, since the preschool setting is often the first environment to interact with nonfamily members in such an intimate and intense way. The unifying emphasis of these discrete chapters is to encourage teachers to home in on the child's behaviour, listen to the meaning of their communication, and intervene in a way that furthers the play.'

    Reyna Cowan, PsyD, LCSW. To read this review in full, please see the following: Cowan, R. (2023) The importance of play in early childhood education: Psychoanalytic, attachment and development perspectives, edited by Marilyn Charles and Jill Bellinson. New York: Routledge, 2019, 252pp.. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 104:1132-1135