An ethnographic account of children’s engagement in play

Anderson, Babs and Owen, Alex (2014) An ethnographic account of children’s engagement in play. In: European Early Childhood Education Research Association Conference, Sept 2014, Crete. (Unpublished)

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This research project aims to contribute to an informed understanding of children’s lived experiences in an early childhood setting. Using the seminal work of Parten (1932) and Broadhead (2004), which theorise a developmental trajectory of young children’s social relationships in play, it problematises these as giving insufficient attention to the children’s own intentions. Using an educational ethnographic approach, the research took place over one academic year. The methods of data collection of participant observation and interviews were selected so as to examine the children’s experiences and strategic choices of engagement in freely-chosen play episodes. Ethical issues of insider/ outsider status were taken into account as were the ethics of differential power relationships between children, practitioner participants and the researcher. The findings indicate that the children have a repertoire of engagement types in play that they are able to intentionally utilise, ranging from a passive engagement to a convergent engagement. The level of skill at which they are able to use these varies greatly between individuals. The passive engagement situation occurs where a child processes the play opportunity at a remove, so that they are able to learn from this without actively partaking. Whilst they have little control, this does not mean this is without value. Convergent engagement occurs where two or more children are able to actively collaborate and share the development of intention and ownership of the play activity. Practitioners can use this to enhance their understanding of the strategies young children employ in play and support their development.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Early Childhood
Depositing User: Alex Owen
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2017 11:16
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2017 11:16

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