Play in Grade R classrooms: Diverse teacher perceptions and practices

20 Jul 2016

The study explores the role of play in Grade R classrooms in the Cape Peninsula. The focus is on perceptions of teachers from differing backgrounds regarding how play is supported and utilised in the classroom. Theories of childhood play as propounded by Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky provide the theoretical background to our understanding of child play. Data were collected from 104 teachers in 41 primary schools and early childhood development (ECD) centres in both well-resourced and under-resourced environments, using semi-structured interviews and guided observations of practice. It was found that, although play is a difficult concept to define, it is easy to recognise. Teachers at some schools seem to have less knowledge of the pedagogy of play. Insights into early childhood teachers? views on the role of play in the curriculum have the potential to inform the planning for teacher training and national policy development for early years? learning. For these reasons, it is necessary to define and understand structured and formal play in the diverse contexts of South Africa, specifically by following, through the years, the teachers who utilise play as pedagogical tool.