Play and playfulness are basic features in early childhood education. The elements of play are pleasure, a sense of freedom, and the co-construction of shared meaning through the use of rules or rhythms. Play and learning are closely related in early childhood. But when the focus on the educational benefits of play becomes too strong, the most essential feature of play is lost: children’s pleasure. Young children in group settings often have to adapt to the teachers’ demands related to security, hygiene, and social norms and values. But the playfulness of the teachers helps to overcome differences in power in the caregiver-child relationship and prevents young children from becoming overburdened with strict rules and group discipline. Play and playfulness are a resource of shared pleasure and creativity in learning processes.
play theory, game theory, play curricula, day care, teacher-child relationship, very young children
Early literacy in Norwegian and Swedish preschool teacher education
Since the turn of the century, politicians in the Scandinavian countries have placed great emphasis on early childhood education and care. They have been especially concerned with lifelong learning in the field of language learning, early literacy, and numeracy. Almost all children between the ages of 1 and 6 years attend a preschool, and the quality of the learning environment is of great importance. This article presents a comparative study of student preschool teachers’ conceptions of the knowledge that they claim to have acquired about children’s early literacy throughout their bachelor education in Norway and in Sweden. The aim is to compare responses to a questionnaire administered to the student teachers and to examine the similarities and differences in the content of and goals indicated in the two countries’ national plans for early literacy. This study is based on sociocultural theories and has a multimethod design. First, through a discourse analysis we examined the national plans for preschool teacher education in Norway and Sweden and studied similarities and differences. Second, we sent a questionnaire to all student preschool teachers at all universities and university colleges in Norway and at the University of Gothenburg. The differences between the Norwegian and Swedish education students were most obviously seen in their responses to the questions about how they work with early literacy. The discourse analyses showed that the national education plans for preschool teacher education in the two countries differ in certain instances but share common ground in others.
early childhood education, language learning, early literacy, preschool teachers, preschool teacher education, comparative study
Styles of parent-child interactions in families with preschool-age children
With regard to cultural-historical and activity approaches, collaborative activity with an adult, including communication as a type of meta-activity, is considered to be the necessary mechanism of child development. A child is considered to be an active partner, possessing his/her own motives, and is guided by mental representations of the parent and interactions with him/her. Russian psychologists have developed a range of parenting style classifications; however, these styles primarily emphasize a parent’s position, contrary to methodological perspectives, with inadequate consideration of a child’s own agency. The aims of the current research were to investigate actual goal-oriented interactions between preschoolers and their parents and to outline certain patterns (types) of interactions, considering both partners and analyzing interac- tions according to the activity model. A total of 75 parent-child dyads (children aged from 4.6 years to 6.11 years) participated in “collaborative activity trials” in which the observational method was based on the activity approach. Cluster analysis (k-means clusterization) revealed five different groups of parent-child dyads: conflictual, harmonious, distant and two-fold dominant (with dominant parent or dominant child). Between-group comparisons (Mann-Whitney U test) showed significant differences in a range of parameters of activity and emotional components of interactions. The harmonious type of interactions is not prevalent, although subgroups with different types of domination are the most common, which may be attributed to cultural peculiarities. Domination-subordination misbalance does not seem to seriously distort the normal developmental trajectory; however, in cases of conflictual and distant dyads, interactional issues might hinder the course of goal-oriented activity, which might serve as a predictor for potential difficulties in further learning.
Learning through play is a common phrase in early childhood education worldwide. Play is often put forward as the overarching principle for working with young children (Johnson, Christie, & Wardle, 2005). However, if we go beyond the rhetorical level and explore how “learning through play” and a “play-based curriculum” are understood and transformed into practice, we may find differences both within and between countries (Karlsson Lohmander & Pramling Samuelsson, 2014a, 2014b; Pramling Samuelsson & Fleer, 2009).
In this article we discuss the relationship between the concepts of play and learning and describe how they are enacted in everyday practice in early childhood education in Sweden. Starting with a brief presentation of the development of early childhood education, we then reflect on the challenges preschool teachers may encounter when trying to implement a new learning-oriented curriculum (National Agency for Education, 2011) and still trying to keep play as a central dimension in children’s everyday life in preschool.
early childhood education, Sweden, preschool, play, learning
Shared activities of parents with their preschool children during family pastime
This article studies the structure of the pastime of contemporary preschool children and the importance and prevalence of various kinds of activities that parents and their children share. The emphasis is on those features of parental behavior that are determined by gender role (mother/father), family status (two-parent/separated family), style of parentchild relationship, and also child’s gender. The work is based on data from 1,936 questionnaires received from parents of preschool children (from 1.5 to 7 years old) who were attending Moscow kindergartens. The research was carried out in 41 kindergartens in 9 districts of Moscow. The survey uncovered several social-psychological features of the position parents take while organizing their shared pastime with preschool children: the influence of traditional gender-role models of parental behavior; the “complementary” principle of mother’s and father’s social-role positions in the upbringing of a daughter; the distortion of traditional maternal behavior in the upbringing of a son in a separated family; the reduced organization of shared play with a child in a separated family; the influence of the style of the parent-child relationship on the participation of parents in their children’s activities. The dynamics show how the parents’ position changes as their children grow older (from 1.5 years to 7 years): namely, the decrease of parents’ organization of and participation in a preschool child’s activities has a negative impact on their emotional state while interacting with the child.
preschool childhood, family pastime, shared activity of parents and children, parental position, parent-child relationship
Indicators of reflection during acquisition of symbolic actions in preschool Colombian children
Solovieva Yu., González-Moreno C.X., Quintanar L. (2015). Indicators of reflection during acquisition of symbolic actions in preschool Colombian children. Psychology in Russia: State of the Art, 8(2), 61-72.
The background of the study is the historic and cultural conception of development, which considers symbolic activities significant for preschool-age children. Our objective was to identify indicators of reflection as an essential feature of preschool development during the acquisition of symbolic actions at three levels: materialized, perceptive, and verbal. The design of the study was descriptive with qualitative and quantitative analysis applied. Included in this assessment of the development of symbolic function were 180 children of preschool age (from 5 to 6 years old) who were in the third year of formal preschool education in Bogotá, Colombia. Qualitative analysis of the results pointed out specific indicators of symbolic development at each level. On the materialized level such indicators were the sequencing of actions with substituted objects, the generalization of the symbolic features of objects, and a verbal, coherent explanation of the mode of substitution. On the perceptive level the indicators were the generalization of features in graphic representations, the possibility of using an image as a strategy for voluntary memorization, and a verbal explanation of the use of an image as a substitution. On the verbal level reflective explanation of verbal substitution was established as the positive indicator. The results permit us to posit the usefulness of clear qualitative indicators for assessment of a child’s level of psychological development and readiness for school learning at the end of preschool.
Project activity has a long history of implementation in education (Kilpatrick, 1918). This article describes the approach to project activity that became widespread in preschool education in Russia in the late 1990s. This approach is based on the cultural-historical theory of Vygotsky (1978), Venger’s (1988) understanding of intellectual giftedness, as well as an understanding of project activity proposed by Leontiev (2000).
At the heart of project activity lies children’s exploration of the space of possibilities — that is, their search for action options that correspond to their personal motives and express their individuality. The main features of project activity are the problem situation to be presented to the child; the subjectivity of all its participants, including teachers; and its nature, which includes its social context.
Three main types of project activity are presented: research, creative, and normative; each has its own structure and value for children’s development. Examples of their implementation in preschool settings are provided. The impact of project activity on all its participants in preschool — children, teachers, parents — is addressed.
The article shows the effectiveness of project activity for educational work with both intellectually gifted and normally developing children.
project activity, giftedness, intellectual development, space of possibilities