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Didactic Approaches to Child-Managed Play: Analyses of Teacher’s Interaction Styles in Kindergartens and After-School Programmes in Norway

Abstract

This article explores the nature of teachers’ involvement in child-managed play. We approached this didactic issue through analysis of interactional situations in a kindergarten and an after-school programme and by drawing on relational theory and the concept of “pedagogical tact”. Qualitative material was gathered from observations and video recordings of children and their teachers in the kindergarten and the after-school programme, and interactional situations were analysed. The findings show that in both institutions, teachers’ involvement follows three main approaches: surveillance, an initiating and inspiring approach, and a participating and interactional approach. Whether surveillance is based on judgments about safety or about rules, it seems to hamper the children’s play. Children in both institution types seem to like when teachers’ involvement included the initiation of new activities. Such activities often transform into child-managed play. Teachers’ inspiring communications and interactions were also characterised by recognition and acknowledgement, and this approach appeared to promote child-managed play. It seems important that a surveillance approach does not overshadow an initiating and inspiring approach or a participating and interactional approach in interactional situations through which teachers act with pedagogical thoughtfulness and tact.

Résumé

Cet article explore la nature de l’implication des enseignants dans le jeu géré par les enfants. Nous avons abordé cette question didactique par l’analyse de situations interactionnelles dans une école maternelle et un programme de garde après l’école, en s’appuyant sur la théorie relationnelle et le concept de “tact pédagogique”. Le matériel qualitatif a été recueilli à partir d’observations et d’enregistrements vidéo d’enfants et leurs enseignants dans la maternelle et la garderie et les situations interactionnelles y ont été analysées. Les résultats montrent que dans les deux institutions, l’implication des enseignants suit trois approches principales: une approche de surveillance, une approche d’initiation inspirante, et une approche participative et interactionnelle. Que la surveillance soit basée sur des jugements relatifs à la sécurité ou aux règles, elle semble entraver le jeu des enfants. Dans les deux types d’établissements, les enfants semblent aimer que l’implication des enseignants comprenne le lancement de nouvelles activités. De telles activités se transforment souvent en jeu géré par les enfants. La communication et les interactions inspirantes des enseignants se caractérisaient également par la reconnaissance et la prise en compte et cette approche s’est montrée propice à promouvoir le jeu géré par les enfants. Il semble important qu’une approche de surveillance n’éclipse pas une approche initiatrice et inspirante ou une approche participative et interactionnelle dans des situations interactionnelles au cours desquelles les enseignants agissent avec prudence et tact pédagogiques.

Resumen

Este artículo explora la naturaleza de la participación de los profesores en el juego libre del niño y la niña. Nos aproximamos a este tema didáctico a través del análisis de las situaciones de interacción en un jardín infantil y un programa después de clases y haciendo uso de la teoría relacional y el concepto del ‘tacto pedagógico’. El material cualitativo se obtuvo de observaciones y grabaciones de videos de los niños y sus maestros en el jardín infantil y el programa después de clases y las situaciones interactivas fueron analizadas. Los resultados muestran que en ambas instituciones la participación de los profesores sigue tres enfoques principales: vigilancia, un enfoque iniciante e inspirador y un enfoque participante e interaccional. Si la vigilancia se basa en juicios sobre seguridad o sobre las reglas, esto pareciera obstaculizar el juego libre de los niños. A los niños en ambos tipos de instituciones parece que les gusta cuando la participación de los profesores incluye el inicio de nuevas actividades. Tales actividades a menudo se transforman en juego libre de niños y niñas. Las comunicaciones e interacciones inspiradas por los maestros también se caracterizaron por el reconocimiento y aceptación y este enfoque pareció promover el juego libre del niño y la niña. Parece importante que un enfoque de vigilancia no ensombrezca un enfoque iniciante e inspirador o un enfoque participante e interaccional en situaciones de interacción a través de la cual los maestros actúan con consideración y tacto.

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Notes

  1. In this article, we use the term “teacher” for all participating employees in the kindergartens and after-school programmes studied, regardless of formal training and professional titles such as schoolteacher, preschool teacher, or assistant.

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Correspondence to Knut Løndal.

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Løndal, K., Greve, A. Didactic Approaches to Child-Managed Play: Analyses of Teacher’s Interaction Styles in Kindergartens and After-School Programmes in Norway. IJEC 47, 461–479 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13158-015-0142-0

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Keywords

  • Child-managed play
  • Teacher involvement
  • Teacher surveillance
  • Pedagogical tact
  • Kindergarten
  • After-school programme