Parent value of play, learning, and development in preschool
Lux, Christine Jane
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Despite evidence in the field of early childhood education that play has an important role in the lives of young children, child-initiated play is disappearing from preschool (Alliance for Childhood, 2009; Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk & Singer, 2009; Singer, Golinkoff & Hirsh-Pasek, 2006; Singer, Singer, D'Agostino & DeLong, 2006). The National Research Council (2001) suggested that the departure of play from early childhood curricula could be due to the fact that play is not considered to have educational value. However, little is known about the value parents place on the role of play in their child's education. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate parents' value of play, learning, and development in preschool. The Parent Value of Preschool Activity (PVPA) survey was designed for this study to measure parents' values. The instrument development process utilized the feedback of identified experts who contributed to an expert review, and parents who participated in an understandability study. Evidence suggested that the PVPA survey is valid and reliable. The PVPA survey (n=94) and an interview protocol (n=6) were used to analyze the variance of parent values. Parents categorized all PVPA survey items as both play and learning and also categorized all items as cognitive. However, data suggested that although parents consider cognitive learning and development important in preschool, social learning and development is the most valued. Importantly, parents were found to have a rich understanding of the complex relationship between play, learning, and development and could therefore provide an influential voice in support of play in preschool. Evidence collected also revealed that there was a significant difference between mothers' value of play and fathers' value of play. More information could be provided to parents as to how play activities and experiences are integrated into children's cognitive, physical, social, and emotional learning and development. Finally, the field of early childhood education should recognize that parents highly value play, learning, and development in preschool and should therefore provide another voice to support that play has a prominent place in early childhood curricula.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University