In Part 1 of my review of Gaye Gronlund’s Developmentally Appropriate Play, we looked at the concepts of different levels of play, ‘no such thing as free play’, and allowing long uninterrupted periods of time for deep play to develop.
The second half of the book discusses helping children to make choices, interactions that enhance play, provoking more complex play, further enriching play, and adding ideas, finishing with templates for writing materials that can enhance dramatic play. One of the things I loved about this book was making links to Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.
Let’s face it, I just love geeking out on linking anything to the EYLF.
Gronlund outlines some ways that educators can help children make choices, explaining why it is important that there is a balance of children making their own choices, and educators making some choices for children. In the EYLF, these ideas are supported in such practices as Responsiveness to Children, Learning through Play, and Intentional Teaching.
The play based approach must be based on children’s own interests as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This is one thing I love about running a family day care environment where the group is very small, and where my program can easily and spontaneously be tailored to each child as well as the group. (And this is one of the reasons why you will not find ‘themed’ weeks in my program – for example “This week we are doing shapes/colours/Christmas/etc!” There are practical suggestions for supporting children’s play through verbal interactions, with specific phrases that educators can use to encourage, acknowledge, challenge, or offer assistance for children’s play. Also explored are ways of knowing when to enter and exit play, and sustaining play. This section resembles the EYLF principle of Secure, Respectful and Reciprocal Relationships, and the practice of Responsiveness to Children.
As always, my time has just run out, and I will have to finish off my first book review with a Part 3. I will leave you with a great concept from Chapter 5, which is to consider whether comments you make during children’s play merely interrupt the play (“Great job!”) or whether they help to sustain the play (“Wow, you used lots of blocks to build the bridge.” Followed up with a question like, ” I wonder what else you need for the bridge?”) It is so easy to make remarks in passing like Great Job! Good Building! Nice drawing! that interrupt but do not add to play.