Adult-Child Interactions in Playful Early Science Learning
In this chapter we are interested in the features of playful learning that allow children to develop their cognitive skills. We bring together literature on teachers’ and parents’ interactions (through guided play and scaffolding, respectively) with young children in support of developing children’s knowledge and skills.
We go beyond the traditional views of play that take a behaviorist perspective (e.g., construction play versus rough and tumble play). These views of play tend to focus on what play looks like, rather than what is happening in the child’s mind when they are playing. In this chapter we focus on the latter because putting the focus on the child’s cognitive skills, rather than on their behavior, makes it easier to see how children might learn through play. Nevertheless we emphasize the role of the adult because leaving children to freely play on their own, without adult guidance and support, has not been shown to be the most effective way for children to learn.