Young children’s digital play in early childhood settings

Curriculum, pedagogy and teachers’ knowledge

Authored by: Elizabeth Wood , Joce Nuttall , Susan Edwards , Susan Grieshaber

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Literacies in Early Childhood

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138303881
eBook ISBN: 9780203730638
Adobe ISBN:


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Research indicates that children’s digital play practices seem to be in advance of teachers’ adaptation of curriculum and pedagogical approaches to incorporate digital technologies, digital media and popular culture, and the potential for learning that these materials generate (Howard, Miles and Rees-Davies 2012; Aubrey and Dahl 2014; Edwards 2016). This gap has been identified as an international concern (European Commission 2012): children’s digital activities are not always well understood by teachers, and might not be valued in ways that will advance children’s competences, or connect with curriculum content. This chapter explores some of the reasons for this gap, and proposes new play pedagogies as a way forward. The first section presents the research literature that identifies the gap between children’s converged play and curriculum and pedagogy in early childhood education (ECE) settings. The second section sets out the conceptual framework, combining contemporary iterations of socio-cultural theories, with theories of children’s interests, funds of knowledge, and converged play. The third section illustrates how teachers in the “New Play Pedagogies” project shifted their understanding of digital technologies, digital media and popular culture, and how children’s interests and practices could be integrated into the early childhood curriculum. The conclusion considers three key questions that are of international significance in ECE regarding new play pedagogies, curriculum and teachers’ knowledge.

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