Social Contexts of Early Education, and Reconceptualizing Play (II): Volume 13


Table of contents

(13 chapters)

Volume 13 of the Advances in Early Education and Day Care series marks twenty years that the series has attempted to provide a forum for current scholarship that might further our thinking about early childhood education and care. This, my ninth volume as series editor, is intended to serve the continuing intent of the series to provide multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on a field that by its nature requires diverse perspectives. Early childhood practices have drawn on ideas from child development, curriculum studies, social work, nursing, sociology, anthropology, and other fields that inform us about children, their care, and the settings in which we implement our programs. Advances has always attempted to respect the necessary diversity of perspectives that can inform the field, and to support work that may not fit in a tidy disciplinary nook.

What are children’s responses to storybook characters portrayed as socioeconomically disadvantaged? Do these responses vary by gender, race, socioeconomic status, and setting? Sixty-two 8-year-old-children individually listened and responded to a story about a soup kitchen using two different communication systems: drawings and words. Categories generated from the data were analyzed using chi-square analyses, yielding statistically significant findings for each of the variables of interest. Results offer a unique, detailed picture of the conceptual schemas of 8-year-old children about poverty.

The influences of gender and task format on children’s collaborative activity with blocks were examined. Forty eight (24 same-gender dyads of preschoolers half of whom were girls) played with blocks under either a divergent or a convergent format. Children attended a community based child care center in an urban area and were predominantly Latino and African-American. Level of social interaction was measured by the amount of time the pair of children spent in interaction. The complexity of the block product was measured by: (1) the number of blocks included in the building (quantitative complexity); and (2) quality of structural organization as determined by the spatial and geometric architectural features (spatial and geometric complexity). Results showed effects for both gender and task format. Dyads in the convergent condition interacted more often. Analyses of the block structures showed that boys used more blocks in the convergent format while girls used more blocks in the divergent format. Girl pairs built more architecturally complex structures than boy pairs. These results show an important task format by gender interaction. Implications for early learning in math are discussed.

In this chapter, we used a research-based case study titled “The Desirable Prince Meeting” to explore how interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives on the child can be used to prompt critical reflection on socially just equity praxis in early childhood education. We argue that using multiple theoretical perspectives to analyze teaching and learning can generate and drive critical reflection on equity praxis more effectively than using a single perspective that presents a single truth about teaching and learning moments.

Because teacher training is an important component of high-quality early care and education (ECE), states are employing various efforts to increase the credentials of teachers in private ECE centers. In New Jersey, teachers who serve disadvantaged students in the state’s community-based Abbott preschools are under a court mandate to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and Preschool – Grade 3 certification by September 2004 or lose their jobs. This chapter describes a phenomenological study of five teachers’ experiences in attempting to meet that mandate, and offers implications for policymakers to consider when evaluating the overall success of this reform effort.

Given the considerable interest currently in the field of early childhood on ways culture influences children’s development, in this chapter I present findings from an ethnographic study I conducted over a six-month period that looks at cultural influences on children’s development. The study looks at 20 Mexican-American children living in a low-income neighborhood in a South Texas community. The children and their families were studied in three specific settings: the children’s homes, the neighborhood surrounding the children’s homes, and the Head Start Center the children attended which was located in the neighborhood. The children ranged in age from 3 to 5 years. Research methodology involved participant observation, informal interviewing, formal interviewing, and document analysis. The theories of Bronfenbrenner and Ogbu provide the framework for considering the cultural perspective in looking at children’s development. Numerous possible themes of cultural aspects as uniquely influencing children’s development emerged from the study’s data collection. The theme I address in this chapter is the adults’ use of names when addressing children. The findings of the study are also compared to the criterion of cultural diversity in Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). Implications for future research and early childhood practice are also presented. Finally, I suggest a new metaphor for looking at culture and its influence on child development.

In a postmodern context this paper proposes that analogical scholarship in which one conceptual schema is used to view another in order to generate new perspectives, be used to view play. Hermeneutic philosophy specifically is used in a process modelling hermeneutic inquiry. Included are a review of play, hermeneutic philosophy, and the outcomes of the juxtaposition of hermeneutic concepts against play. Resultant perspectives on key issues in play, such as the meaning of play, play in meaning making, the binaries of play, play and practice, and play in the reconceptualizing movement in early childhood education, follow.

This chapter critiques the concept of play as a part of educational practice in early childhood education. After dissecting a developmentally appropriate statement about play, we present some principles of hermeneutic analysis as an additional way to observe and think about classroom play. The issue of which narrative tale (child, children, community, curriculum, teacher, etc.) any play event might inform is presented. An illustrative case is presented, followed by suggestions for situating play inquiry’s text in context.

Rough and tumble (R&T) play is a well-researched form of play fighting that contributes to children’s academic and social success. Some continue to believe it inevitably leads to bullying and aggression, but this chapter makes that case that R&T should be reconceptualized and supported by creating settings that welcome and encourage consenting players’ participation. R&T can be supported by creating an emotionally safe environment where children are empowered to choose whether or not to join in, by the provision of wide-open spaces, adequate time, and adults who will provide a physical and emotional safety net at arm’s length.

The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on war play and aggression. The paper begins with an introduction to play and the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Corsaro. This is followed by a definition of pretend aggression and the war play debate. Literature is reviewed on how violent television, war toys, and war play shapes children’s imaginary play and aggressive behaviors. Attention is also given to the teacher’s role in war play and the methods used to investigate war play. Suggestions are made for future approaches to the study of war play within the context of the peer culture. The paper concludes with implications for early childhood educators.

This manuscript presents findings regarding teachers’ and parents’ beliefs about play in bilingual early childhood classrooms. The participants of this study included Mexican or Mexican American bilingual early childhood teachers from different parts of the state of Texas. Participants of the study also included Mexican or Mexican American parents who had children enrolled in bilingual early childhood classrooms in South Texas. Data were collected through a Likert-scale survey and interviews about play. Three functions of play that emerged from the interviews paralleled the three play constructs as derived by factor analysis.

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Advances in Early Education and Day Care
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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