Cross-Cultural Psychology of Play and Early Childhood Education

Cross-Cultural Psychology of Play and Early Childhood Education

Asil Ali Özdoğru (Üsküdar University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5167-6.ch012
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Play is a universal form of human behavior that has been observed across all cultures and constitutes a fundamental role in children's development. This chapter summarizes theory, research, and practice of play in early childhood education from a cross-cultural perspective. Even though there are common qualities of play, there is a great deal of variation within and across cultures. In the multicultural environment of globalizing world, early childhood professionals need to make better use of play from an intercultural perspective. Effective utilization of play in early childhood education needs a thorough understanding of scientific theories and cross-cultural research on play. Quality early childhood education programs incorporate play as a central element in the curriculum with consideration of both individual- and group-level differences. Developmentally and culturally appropriate practice in early childhood education demands the assessment and utilization of individual and cultural characteristics of children in the planning and implementation of play-based interventions.
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Birds fly, fish swim, and children play.

Garry Landreth (2012, p. 27)


Theories Of Play

Several theoretical frameworks have aimed to explain children’s play. Classical theories of play that came around 19th and 20th century are more philosophical in nature, whereas modern theories of play that were developed after 1920s are more empirical (Saracho & Spodek, 2003). Classical theories of play such as surplus, recreation, pre-exercise, and recapitulation theories emphasizes physical and instinctive qualities of play. On the other hand, modern theories of play, which includes psychoanalytic, arousal modulation, metacommunicative, and cognitive theories, focus on developmental functions of play.

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