• Subject Name : Early Childhood

Developing Integrated Pedagogical Approaches

According to the Morris, Edwards, Mackenzie, Rutherford, Smith and Skouteris (2018), the digital world has had a drastic effect on the lives of the little ones. The children of today’s generation watch more movies and series, compared to those of earlier generations. They get easily attached to characters of animated movies, and the fast food supply chain takes advantage of such innocent attachment. (Troseth, Russo & Strouse, 2016) they begin schemes that include a toy item, similar to that of the lead characters in the movies. The children get attracted and coax parents to take them to the particular outlets. This, in turn, results in obesity among the younger population of the country. (Harris & Kalnova, 2018). The addiction to digital media along with effecting the health and well-being of the children, also have an impact on their sustainable participation in the society, as they rarely come outside to run around and play in the parks. (Karabon, 2017). This study has been conducted on 4-year old, to get an insight of their understanding and attachment to fast food. The selection of children has been done randomly, along with 25 early-childhood teachers. The main aim of the experiment was to see, if the play-based experience could change the perception of things with regard to fast-food consumption and regular vegetable consumption. It play-based learning experience included activities like co-planting of a vegetable plant, making food rainbows using fruits and vegetables and setting up of a drink shop to understand the importance and utility of water (Elliot & Young, 2016). The result was that, the children could make connections between ‘running’ and ‘carrots’ with the explanation- ‘the regular intake of vegetable and fruits make one strong and capable of running.’ The immediate result of the play-based experience was that, the children exhibited increased intake for fruits and vegetables and decreased intake for processed and packaged foods along with fast-food within 3 months after the play and also showed an increase in physical activities. Thus, children are able to make knowledge connections through play-based learning, and it is on the parents to come up with creative methods to teach the value of different things to their kids through this method.

According to the authors, Disney, Barnes, Ey & Geng (2019), claim that the use to digital media and technology is not always harmful for children. It may be used to bring out a positive result and make the children learn something new via the apps available on the platforms. This study is specifically focused on the use of tablet computers for learning. These devices are already in use in majority of the Australian households. It has also been seen that most children around 6 years of age own a personal smart-phone. So, these devices are already a part of everyday life, we might as well use them for understanding and numeracy learning. It was seen in a previous study, that the impact of tablet-based learning compared to the traditional learning of numeracy was significantly more on children between 4-6 years of age (Zaranis, Kalogiannakis & Papadakis, 2013). It is understood that the apps created for learning have a creative and open-ended approach, whereas, the traditional method is more towards the drill-and-practice design. The children may be bored in the traditional method and refuse to take initiative or interest in the same. The apps, on the other hand, give the children a heightened sense of control on their learning and the children, willingly interact with the apps. This paper follows the quantitative method of research. A game format was used to assess the knowledge retained by the kids after the play-experience to measure the difference between the two methods of pedagogy. There were five parts in the numeracy measurement: (a) numerical identification, (b) counting, (c) arithmetic problems, (d) shape identification, and (e) patterns. It was seen that the average performance of the children improved in a drastic manner after the apps were used for the learning processes. The devices of technology are here to stay and the younger generations have to learn to live with it and use them for progressive purposes (Varol & Farran, 2006). Instead of trying to keep them away from the devices, the parents can introduce the devices in a manner to the children which will ultimately help them in learning the basics in a better way. 

The authors, Monkeviciene, Stankeviciene, Autukeviciene & Joniliene (2017), accept that the play-based learning suits a child’s need best, but, the educational institutes tend to focus more on learning, than on play (Samuelson & Carlsson, 2008). The recent developments have shown that play and learning may not be completely different things. Teachers tend to resort to play to capture the interest of the child and then once they have it, they dive into learning. This gives rise to a situation of ‘Didactic Dissonance’. In this situation, both the teacher and the student-child assume conflicting roles where the expectations of each differ from the other, and ultimately, hinders the process of learning as a whole. The teachers should try not to change the course of play to bring it to the process of learning. Small lessons based on the playing methods of the children may be taught without putting the additional pressure of ‘learning’ on the child. This is known as the theory of Joint Attention (Pramling & Pramling, 2011). The teacher may also include other children to play. This encourages the child to learn moral values like sharing and kindness and also learns other things through the open-ended communication with peers. There are 5 such situations that are discussed in the paper, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. (Racine & Carpendale, 2007) The authors used a quantitative method of research and according to them, when the pedagogy method is being applied practically, it should be done with the help of professional teachers, who are experienced in dealing with children. Thus, a group of 17 teachers were selected for the study, with the requirements of 5 years’ experience and a Master’s degree on the subject. Each of the methods used for teaching had different outcomes and have been discussed in detail by the authors. It has been proved that the method of ‘unintentional learning’ works better than the drill of ‘learn and practice’ as the children voluntarily take part in the activities instead of feeling a pressure of being forced to do the same. They look at the play-based method as something they might have done, even without being told to do so by the teacher. These activities help them to connect to daily life and remember the topics that are taught attached to those activities.

According to Mackenzie and Edwards (2015), environment education has become an important part of the teaching curriculum and can be found in almost all the teaching methods. However, the issues of environment protection are introduced at a stage when the child is capable of understanding the issues that are in place due to the degradation of the environment. The authors intend to introduce environmental education to children through the play-based learning pedagogy method. (Hatch, 2010) The concept of saving water was introduced by letting the children paint with water colours. Subsequently, the children were provided with filters which could clean the water and the teacher explained how water could be used again for plants. An activity of plants trees was included and the water from the paint buckets was used for the plants. The children could recognise and mention the idea of the activity done. There are three play types that are mentioned by the authors and each of them are researched on, in depth, with the help of different permutations and combinations. The idea was examined for a second time with the idea of teaching the concept of recycling. (Yelland, 2011) It was found that the children understood that why the food scraps were being put in the soil. The teachers avidly commented on how difficult it had been for them to make the children understand these concepts before a certain age was reached. (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) The teachers came forward with the changes they had seen in the children after following the play-based methods of teaching and each of them felt that this was an easier way to make a child understand the topic of discussion without putting additional burden on them (Shridan & Pramling, 2013). The interview of the teachers, along with the immediate changes seen and felt by them have been mentioned in explicit detail by the authors and it can be said that the play-based method works better than the conventional teaching methods that have been followed for ages (Skidmore, 2007). The quantitative method of research is used by the authors for the study and the only aim of the study is to see in play-based teaching methods could be used to make children aware of their surroundings at an earlier age.

According to Edwards (2017), intends to strike out a balance and differentiate between the play-based pedagogy and the intentional teaching method. The teachers following the traditional methods have accepted the harsh reality that ‘play’ can never be mixed with ‘learn’. The new developed method of play-based learning has shattered the methods of teaching that were being followed for generations. The author claims that play is not just any random act which the child does. If observed carefully, these acts can be used to measure the mental capacity, attitude and development of a child. Many a-times, these characteristics are confronted face-to-face with the things taught in classrooms. Australia has already come forward with the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), which mentions that teachers should use a mix of play-based and intentional teaching methods for the children, but the rest of the world more-or-less still believes in the traditional methods of teaching, including USA, parts of Europe and Asia. (Adams & Fleer, 2016). The author points out the loopholes in EYLF and provided for a detailed understanding of the terms mentioned in the Framework. It has been said that the play-based method alone, is not sufficient for the complete acquisition of knowledge that has to be provided for the all-rounded development of a child. It has been suggested that play-based methods should be used along with the intentional teaching methods to make sure that the child relates the knowledge obtained through intentional teaching to acts of daily life. This method will act as a bridge between the book-learnt knowledge and the application of the same in the life of the child at a very early age (Wood & Attfield, 2005). According to Wood’s definition of the play-based method, at involved adult-directed activities that had been purposefully framed (Wood, 2010). It took the author 16 years to completely understand the working of the play-based method of teaching and she has come up with a concept of her own, which highlights the use of this method of pedagogy so that maximum productivity is achieved with all sects with whom this method is used.

Conclusion on Play-Based Learning Environment for Young Children

The play-based method may be a very effective method used to teach children, if used in the correct manner by the teachers. Change has never been easy, and the teachers following the traditional methods of teaching may take some time to open up and accept the working of this method. But, once it is accepted, it can be used along with the intentional teaching methods to work wonders.

References for Play-Based Learning Environment for Young Children

Troseth, G. L., Russo, C. E., & Strouse, G. A. (2016). What’s next for research on young children’s interactive media? Journal of Children and Media, 10(1), 54–62.

Harris, J., & Kalnova, S. (2018). Food and beverage TV advertising to young children: Measuring exposure and potential impact. Appetite, 123, 49–55.

Hatch, J. A. (2010). Rethinking the Relationship between Learning and Development: Teaching for Learning in Early Childhood Classrooms. The Educational Forum, 74 (3), 258-268.

Elliott, S., & Young, T. (2016). Nature by default in early childhood education for sustainability. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 32(1), 57–64.

Pramling Samuelsson, I., & Asplund Carlsson, M. (2008). The Playing Learning Child. Towards a Pedagogy of Early Childhood. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 52 (6), 623 – 641.

Pramling, N., & Pramling Samuelsson, I. (Eds.). (2011). Educational Encounters: Nordic Studies in Early Childhood Didactics. Dordrecht: Springer.

Karabon, A. (2017). They’re lovin’ it: How preschool children mediated their funds of knowledge into dramatic play. Early Child Development and Care, 187(5–6), 896–909.

Zaranis, N., Kalogiannakis, M., & Papadakis, S. (2013). Using mobile devices for teaching realistic mathematics in kindergarten education. Creative Education, 4(7), 10.

Varol, F., & Farran, D. C. (2006). Early mathematical growth: How to support young children’s mathematical development. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(6), 381–387.

Yelland, N. (2011). Reconceptualising Play and Learning in the Lives of Young Children. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 36 (2), 4-12.

Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Sheridan, S., & Pramling Samuelsson, I. (2013). Preschool a Source for Young Children’s Learning and Well-Being. International Journal of Early Years Education, 21 (2–3), 207–222.

Skidmore, D. (2007). Pedagogy and Dialogue. Cambridge Journal of Education, 36 (4), 503-514.

Racine, T. P., & Carpendale, J. I. M. (2007). Shared Practices, Understanding, Language and Joint Attention. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25, 45-54.

Cutter-Mackenzie, A., & Edwards, S. (2013). Toward a Model for Early Childhood Environmental Education: Foregrounding, Developing, and Connecting Knowledge through Play-Based Learning. The Journal of Environmental Education, 44 (3), 195–213.

Edwards, S. (2017). Play-based learning and intentional teaching: Forever different?. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood42(2), 4-11.

Adams, M., & Fleer, M. (2016). The relations between a ‘pushdown’ and ‘push-up’ curriculum: A cultural-historical study of home-play pedagogy in the context of structured learning in international schools in Malaysia. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 17(3), 328–342.

Wood, E., & Attfield, J. (2005). Play, learning and the early childhood curriculum (2nd ed.). London, UK: SAGE Publishing.

Wood, E. (2010). Developing integrated pedagogical approaches to play and learning. In P. Broadhead, J. Howard & E. Wood (Eds.), Play and learning in the early years (pp. 9–27). London, UK: SAGE Publishing.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Early Childhood Assignment Help

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