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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015
together in problem-solving, share a mutual trust and respect, have a greater sense of knowing each other's interests, and effectively communicate to each other. This type of interaction removes the need for managing any challenging behaviours as it breaks down the teacher-student paradigm into a new structure, enforcing an equal status in play. Furthermore, imaginative play can push the boundaries of these paradigms to represent and acknowledge the child as a 'virtuoso' when using the mantle of the expert theory, which is when an adult takes on a character role that is a lower status to that of the child's (Hendy and Toon, 2001). For example, the child is the doctor and the educator is an ill patient, the doctor tends to the patient's needs with their 'expert' knowledge. The learning for the child through the use of dramatic play is tremendous and is evidenced again by Hendy and Toon (2001, p.34) who summarise this succinctly by stating that by "engaging children in strong 'pretend self' experiences, both in socio-dramatic and thematic-fantasy play we are providing an effective mode that can develop both cognitive and affective learning" . Fleer (2011) goes further suggesting that the learning for the child actually extends even beyond the preschool classroom claiming "play-based programs which support imagination will make a difference to children's capacity in existing and future cognitive tasks, including priority areas such as literacy and numeracy" . All of this suggests that participating in imaginative play with your children can support positive outcomes in their development and should be viewed as a vital component in a play-based preschool setting. In closing I would like to leave you with some tips to support imaginative play scenarios within a preschool classroom setting: • The rule of thumb when it comes to toys and props is, the older the children, the less realistic the props, so that in a 4 year old classroom you would want to see more props that children have re-purposed or made by themselves. • Opportunity for this style of play should be provided in a block of at least 30 minutes a day (longer in full-day programs), uninterrupted by lessons or teaching activities. Two 15 minute play times are not the same as an uninterrupted 30 minutes. • Educators should support children's play by modeling different roles and by helping children think of what might come next. The educator's role is to step out once children get their pretend ideas going. • While supporting the children to resolve social problems that may arise (for example, if a number of children want to play the same role, or if there is an argument over an item), the educator should also support children to resume their play after it is interrupted. (Adapted from "Tools of the Mind") References: Fleer, M. 2011, 'Conceptual Play: Foregrounding imagination and cognition during concept formation in early years education', Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, vol. 12, no. 3, p. 224. Hendy, L & Toon, L. 2001, Supporting drama and imaginative play in the early years, Open University Press, Buckingham Supporting Make-Believe Play - Tools of the Mind. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2015, from http://www.toolsofthemind.org/parents/make-believe-play/ REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2015 - ISSUE 60 9
Reflections Issue 59 Winter 2015
Reflections Issue 61, 2015