Literacy Learning, Direction and Play in a Pre-school Environment

By Wendy Jane Thompson and Jane Gill.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Literacy learning and concept formation are inextricably linked, in that the language children use; or, are responsive to during interactions with others, defines the limits of their understanding. This does not underestimate the non-verbal interactions that babies and young children have with significant others when sharing literacy texts or related materials. Recording and analysing the self-initiated language used by 3-4 year old children at play using literacy stimulus materials, contrasted with their use of language demonstrated in adult led literacy activity, requires detailed moment by moment observation of the interactions taking place. Essentially, social as well as linguistic behaviour should be observed to judge children’s levels of motivation and involvement in both situations. Playful activities are viewed as being intrinsically motivating, although not without challenge in terms of creating tensions between players. Children in self initiated play with literacy materials need to negotiate and develop a play frame if the outcome is to be successful in promoting involvement, flow of ideas and successful problem solving or concept formation. Adults purposefully or subconsciously scaffold activities using literacy texts and related materials to ensure children understand or are engaged in the activity, constantly assessing their involvement. Results in this study of two contrasting literacy activities demonstrated the techniques children and adults use to promote involvement. That the adult’s views and children’s views differed in terms of what was considered to be a positive outcome was an interesting development.

Keywords: Story, Play, Language, Socio-Cultural, Involvement, Flow

International Journal of the Book, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.17-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.237MB).

Wendy Jane Thompson

Early Years Professional Programme Director, Scarborough School of Education, University of Hull, UK

I am a Programme Director for the early years at the University of Hull. I have led the PGCE Early Years (3-7 age phase) programme for many years and have a great deal of experience in preparing students for qualified teacher status. I am currently leading the Early Years Professional training at the Scarborough Campus. I have written articles with my colleague David Coates, which include the ‘Gifted Education International’ journal. Research and interests include using learning journeys to support gifted children in nursery schools, child development and child pedagogy.

Jane Gill

Pre-School Leader, North Yorkshire Local Authority, UK


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