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Looking into Children’s Play Communities

by Mark Mabry and Carolee Fucigna
March/April 2009
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/looking-into-childrens-play-communities/5018649/

We all need the patience and the vision to look into children’s play, not just at [children’s play].
" Harley, 1999, pg. 26

Play, particularly children’s sociodramatic play, is very much the cornerstone of early childhood classrooms in the United States. As early childhood educators, we learn and expound the ubiquitous mantras of ‘the value of play,’ ‘play-based programs,’ ‘children learning through play,’ and ‘play as child’s work.’ We strive to promote the importance of making a place for play in programs for young children, and to educate parents and broader communities about the benefits that children derive from engaging in play with one another.

Children’s social play is one of the most important venues for learning in the early childhood classroom. Through play with others, they develop self-direction and self-control, an understanding of symbolic representation, fluency in communication and cooperation, problem-solving strategies, and an understanding of cultural rules and social behavior (Meckley, 2005). Yet articulating the significance of dramatic play in terms of what unfolds daily in our own classroom can be a complex, multi-layered, and somewhat ‘slippery’ task. While this play is easily identifiable, understanding its meaning, especially from the children’s points of view, requires careful observation and analysis. Trying to ...

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