The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the perception tenured kindergarten teachers have toward free choice play in their classrooms. All of a child’s achievements are possible through play (Vygotsky, 1978). Kindergarten teachers are challenged with finding the balance between providing a developmentally appropriate environment to learning and meeting standards set before them to show student achievement. The educational landscape is changing and has led to a decrease in the amount of time young children are given to play within the school day. Miller and Almon (2009) found that children are spending up to six times as much time in reading and math instruction than on play. This current study aimed to capture the kindergarten teacher experiences and play-providing opportunities in their classroom. The case study was viewed through the theoretical framework of constructivism. Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky believed that interactions are the key to learning (Mooney, 2013). There are varying perceptions in regards to play. This study explored those variations through inquiry and observation within four kindergarten classrooms, and asked the following research questions: How is play experienced within kindergarten classroom? How is play incorporated in the daily schedule? How are teachers’ perceptions 0 on play actualized within the kindergarten classroom? This study employed a responsive interview model while conducting the semi-structured interview approach. Document collection occurred along with two classroom observations took place. Field notes and analytical memos were taken of the environment, play opportunities and was more participant focused noting the interactions and relationships between the teacher and the students. In addition to the interviews and observations, there was also an attempt to understand the culture of school and community. The data was compiled and transformed into the narrative form which became the final step of the analysis process (Creswell, 2007). Four themes emerged from the participant interviews: (1) Types of Play Offered (“We are afraid of getting in trouble but no one ever has”); (2) Play and the Curriculum (“All work and no play is cruel and unusual punishment”); (3) Administration and Play (“They have never been to the planet of early childhood”); and (4) My Stance on Play in My Classroom (“I truly believe anything can be learned through play, it’s the most natural setting”). After reviewing the interviews and observations, four teacher characteristic types emerged, outlining the following roles: Coach, Friend, Nurturer, and Parent.
This qualitative case study explored the philosophy, perception, and practice of tenured kindergarten teachers and the opportunities allowed for children in their classrooms to play freely. This study adds to the qualitative research in the areas of teacher preparation, early childhood curriculum and the special place we call kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers are finding themselves caught between providing a learning experience that is developmentally appropriate and meeting the demands of school administration and standards. This study adds to the body of research on the benefits of play in the kindergarten classroom. The discoveries of this research study indicate that teachers value play and that free choice play is indeed still being offered in kindergarten classrooms.
|Commitee:||Thomas, Jerald, Byrne, Melissa|
|Department:||Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction, K-12 Learning|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Early childhood education, Curriculum development|
|Keywords:||Early childhood, Kindergarten, Play, Qualitative case study, Teacher perspective, Teacher practice|
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