“The Importance of Being Playful,” Bodrova and Leong

In this compelling and fascinating article, Bodrova and Leong argue that “a certain kind of play has its place in early childhood classrooms and that the proponents of play and academic learning can find some much-needed common ground” (paragraph 3). They describe the evolution and positive effects of play on early childhood learning and development, tracing it to the emergence of “mature play,” somewhere around kindergarten. The authors then offer suggestions for, and the reasoning behind, teachers encouraging imaginative play in early childhood classrooms.

I wasn’t exactly sure about Bodrova and Leon’s point about “pretend play” being “positively and significantly correlated with such competencies as text comprehension and metalinguistic awareness and with an understanding of the purpose of reading and writing” (paragraph 4), but I guess I’ll just have to look at Roskos and Christie’s book to find out.

Not coming from a strictly education background, I found the descriptions of the transition from immature to mature play and of all the rule-making that children do in their imaginative play to be truly thought-provoking–in no small part as a source of reflection on my own childhood play. (Was my imagination more or less free as I played more D&D and more video games throughout my youth?) I’m also now resolved to take away from the piece a reminder I hope to keep at the back of my head as I design in the future–the objects and elements of great play need not be tech-intensive or super-realistic in and of themselves. Let–or rather help–imaginations do as much work as possible.

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