by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Reflections Magazine : Issue 50
Marking a significant shift in educational thinking, Rousseau argued against early formal instruction by adults. Rather, he believed that learning would happen naturally if children were allowed freedom to play, to follow their interests and to engage with their natural environment. The work of German educator, Friedrich Froebel (1746-1827), also comes to mind. Like Rousseau, Froebel promoted play as the best way for children to learn, making the connection between children's play and later learning and wellbeing: ... Play at this time is not trivial, it is highly serious and of deep significance. Cultivate it and foster it.. ; protect and guard it... The plays of childhood are the germinal leaves of all later life (Froebel, 1826/1974: 55). Froebel's idea of 'kindergarten' was underpinned by images of happy children singing, dancing, gardening and engaging in self-directed play with educational toys. But, while Froebel talked about children learning through play, his approach was quite teacher-directed and different to Rousseau's idea of free play. The ideas of other theorists continue to influence current thinking about play and learning in ECEC. Swiss Psychologist Jean Piaget, one of the major architects of developmental theory in ECEC, argued that play needed to be appropriate to the child's current stage of development. The remarkable Maria Montessori devised a range of toys and activities to improve outcomes for "developmentally delayed children" (Follari, 2011: 221) and was so impressed by the results that she advocated universal access to her educational program. Then of course, there is the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky who emphasised the social and cultural nature of children's play and learning. Each of these philosophers and theorists held particular views on play and learning, but there are some shared themes. They recognised: • childhood as a unique and special time of life, separate and different to adulthood; • the need for a thoughtfully planned learning environment that enabled active engagement with real materials; • the integrated nature of learning in the early years; and • children as active learners playing a part in their own learning. Incidentally, contemporary research suggests (respectfully) that all of these theorists actually underestimated young children's capacity to explore, play and learn. Some contemporary perspectives Over recent years, there has been an international policy spotlight on ECEC as the foundation for lifelong learning, social cohesion and national productivity (COAG, 2009; OECD, 2006). Within this context, child care, kindergarten and family day care are being positioned as part of the Australian education system. These services clearly make a significant contribution to children's early learning, their transition to school and achievement in school. However, as with all mergers, there is a need to consider how the different sectors, that is, ECEC services and schools, come to work together. 5 Formal schooling Children at play Jean-Jacques Rousseau Montessori equipment
Reflections Magazine Issue 51