Practitioners' experiences of play as a pedagogy for learning in early childhood centres
Mofokeng, Mahudi Magdelina
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This study explores early childhood practitioners' experiences of play as a pedagogy for learning in early childhood centres. Specifically, the study explores how practitioners understand play, how children learn through play and how play as a pedagogy for learning can be used to enhance children's learning. The intention was to make sense of how these understandings and experiences of play influence pedagogic practice for children between the ages of 3-4. The study drew on constructivism as a theoretical framework to understand how knowledge around play, learning through play and play as a pedagogy for learning was constructed. The concepts of constructivism, play as a pedagogy for learning, teacher-directed play, child-initiated play and free play was used an analytical lens to give visibility to the practitioners' experiences of play at the early childhood centres. The study was situated within an interpretivist paradigm and made use of a qualitative research design. A purposive sample of six early childhood practitioners teaching children between the ages of 3-4 was used. Using data generation tools of semi-structured interviews, enabled an understanding of the practitioners' experiences of play as a pedagogy and how these experiences influence their practice. The findings suggest that practitioners have inadequate understandings of play as a pedagogy for learning and this is due to inadequate training and lack of support for the implementation of play as a pedagogy at the centres. An insight of this study suggests that practitioners need to be provided with adequate professional training so that they have a common understanding of play as a pedagogy for learning in early childhood centres.