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Adult Roles in Support of Early Childhood Play, Encouraging Sensitivity to the Individual and Reflexive Approaches

In: Scottish Educational Review
Authors:
Lynn McNair University of Edinburgh

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Iain Cameron University of Edinburgh

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Laura Gilbertson University of Edinburgh

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This paper builds upon an ethnographical doctoral study that explored how adults exercise power over children. Anchored in the worlds of children’s lived experiences, it explores whether play can be deeper, richer and more meaningful when children are beyond the watchful eye of adults. It focuses on children’s play within the spaces they occupied prior to, and after, their transition from nursery to primary school. Participants included children aged between 3.7 – 4.7 years of age, as well as Early Year Practitioners (EYPs) and visitors to the setting. The interactions and behaviours of the participants were observed, ensuring that children were not ‘objectified’ in the process. Vignettes of play episodes highlight complexities surrounding adult understanding of children’s play. In particular the need for adults to be more reflexive in using knowledge from practice to support play and resist assigning false purpose to play episodes.

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