A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION OF CHILDREN’S EXPERIENCES OF ROLE-PLAY IN TWO PACK-AWAY EARLY CHILDHOOD SETTINGS.
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In this thesis, I explored children’s experiences of role-play in relation to notions of self. The research took place in two pack-away settings in the Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). The experiences of eight children, aged between three-year-three months and four-years one month, were investigated over a period of seven months. I used an adaptation of The Mosaic Approach (Clark and Moss 2001) combined with a reflective lenses approach (Brookfield 1995) to create a three-dimensional view of the children’s experiences. The children and I used a range of tools to gather data including digital cameras, conferencing, drawing and map-making. Children were conceptualised as agentic and capable of commenting on their lives and experiences (James et al 1998, Qvortrup 2004, Cosaro 2010). The findings revealed that children engage in Wave Play, a fluid form of role-play in which they move both props and ideas from space to space. Practitioners support the children in finding the necessary props and allowing them to move from one area of the setting to another. The children displayed positive self-esteem and effective social behaviours showing an awareness of themselves as social beings. They were confident that their needs will be met when they request support. In their role-play activities, they showed their understanding of themselves as integrated selves; beings, becomings and having beens (Cross 2011). Adults in pack-away settings can support children effectively by adopting a flexible pedagogical approach.
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