Considering that language (oral and written) is linked to children’s present and future educational success, teachers have a crucial role to play in supporting language learning from the age of 5.
To promote the development of children’s oral and written language in symbolic play situations, support must be provided for the adults who work with children on a daily basis.
Children’s symbolic play is an excellent context for this purpose. However, teachers are uncertain which activities and aspects should be given priority. In addition, the educational value of play is underestimated in the classroom, so that its potential is not fully exploited to promote the development of children’s oral and written language. At the same time, our work over the past few years suggests that researchers and teachers have different views on this subject.
To promote the development of children’s oral and written language in symbolic play situations, support must be provided for the adults who work with children on a daily basis. This is the general objective of this action-research project, which aims to introduce a professional development intervention for 5-year-old-kindergarten teachers that will support children’s oral and written language development during symbolic play.
The results reveal tensions in teaching practices when it comes to symbolic play situations, such as the existence of simultaneous or competing teaching goals, the influence of certain play themes over others to promote writing, etc. These tensions reflect the richness and complexity of the task of teaching kindergarten for 5-year-olds and suggest the possibility of designing new professional development initiatives to better support teachers in their work. The results also show that the professional development intervention has a significant positive effect on teaching practices related to symbolic play.
Caroline Bouchard, Université Laval
Deposit of the research report: February 2020