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Vygotskian perspectives on using dramatic play to enhance children's development and balance creativity with structure in the early childhood classroom

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Abstract:

What kind of environmental and administrative factors support the balance between child-centred and teacher-directed practices in the early childhood classroom? What specific aspects of children's development are nurtured by this pedagogy? These and other pedagogical issues are addressed in this article as it describes how a particular curriculum on dramatic play was initiated, implemented and developed with a group of four year olds. The article includes a detailed discussion of the step-by-step process of how this curriculum was developed and an analysis of the multi-dimensional development in children that occurred as a result of this project. The discussion is framed within a Vygotskian perspective as connections are explored between this curriculum, children's development and specific Vygotskian ideas such as language and cognition, the zone of proximal development, cultural signs and tools, socio-cultural construction of knowledge and the notion of willpower. This project on dramatic play may be viewed in terms of guided participation in which the children were active learners in a classroom community of people who supported, challenged and guided novices as they participated collectively in a cultural activity.

Keywords: Vygotsky; balanced curriculum; dramatic play; practice and theory; reflective teaching; socio-cultural constructivism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03004430701731654

Affiliations: North Academic Center, School of Education, The City College of New York, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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