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Title: Play in Chinese kindergartens : teachers' perceptions and practices
Author: Yang, Yanjuan
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Play is widely recognized as a natural ability and fundamental right of children. In educational settings, the idea of integrating play into early childhood education to promote children’s learning and development has been continually advocated by researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. However, as play is a culturally situated concept, it may be understood differently by teachers within different social and cultural contexts in terms of its function and value to children’s development and its relation with learning. Moreover, Chinese educational reform underlines play-based pedagogy in early childhood education. This raise questions about how play is interpreted by Chinese early childhood teachers as a vehicle for early learning and motivate the current study to locate play in a Chinese context to explore kindergarten teachers’ understanding and execution of play in practice. A qualitative design with in-depth, open-ended interviews, persistent classroom observation, and documentary review was employed. Twenty-four early childhood education practitioners, including three administrators, three interest class teachers and eighteen teachers, two from each of nine classes in three different Chinese kindergartens were interviewed and the interactions between the teachers and individual children were video-recorded during playtime. A number of relevant official policy documents, regulations and kindergarten curriculum plans were collected to offer context for the research. Data was analyzed by adopting content analysis and constant comparison. The findings show that the teachers construct a notion of ‘eduplay’ in the kindergarten educational settings, which emphasizes more on the instrumental value than the intrinsic value of play. A combination of a cultural transmission/direct approach and an emergent/responsive approach is revealed in their practice. The teachers adopt diverse roles in play. Although didactic features are evident in teachers’ role in play, the teachers show strong desire to play a ‘whole teacher’ role and establish a parallel relationship with children. They share a similar view that teachers’ active involvement can contribute to children’s learning in play and they are more likely to exert their influence on children’s play through direct intervention than play provision. Moreover, the findings reveal that the teacher-child interactions in play in this study are less likely to scaffold children’s learning. There seems to be a tension between teachers’ concerns of safety and children’s intense involvement in play. Three main influences, including the influences from the cultural context, the influences from the institutional context, and the influences from the teachers’ personal context were identified affecting the implementation of play in kindergarten practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB Theory and practice of education