It’s ‘Early Learning Matters’ Week!
This year, the focus is on Learning through Play. Early Childhood Australia emphasised that, “High-quality, play-based education and care supports young children to learn and thrive, with support from parents, carers and the wider community.”
Professional Practice Consultant Trina Bourke reflects on this week’s celebration as a passionate supporter of children’s right to play. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 31 states that ‘Every child has the right to rest, relax, play and to take part in cultural and creative activities’ thereby recognising its importance in children’s lives. In our increasingly economically globalised digital world, where instruction, structured activities, and adult driven learning encroach further and further into children’s opportunity for self-directed exploratory, and meandering play, children need our support even more.
The issue is that often play and education are considered to be separate states; however play is how children learn in the ways that are meaningful to them. Macnamara (2016) suggests that despite over 75 years of research and evidence of play’s importance to children, ‘play should be added to the endangered list’ (p. 53) because of its invasion by well-meaning adult interventions to ‘improve learning’. Long-time play advocate Dr Peter Gray also links the disappearance of play to the increase of anxiety in children. As ‘play is the birthplace of personhood – it is how the self is born psychologically’ without it children are being robbed of their basic human needs (Macnamara, 2016, p. 55).
As educators we need to advocate for children to preserve this right, to preserve play.
Join us this week to celebrate the importance of early learning in children’s development and wellbeing.
Resources used for this article are: Gray, P. (2014). ‘The decline of play’. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk and Macnamara, D. (2016). ‘Rest play grow’. Aona Books.
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Trina Bourke, Professional Practice Consultant – Child Australia