Exploring physically active play in the early childhood curriculum from a complexity thinking perspective

This paper conceptualizes the teaching and learning of physically active play (PAP) in the early childhood curriculum. The conceptualization emerges from ‘doing complexivist bricolage’ and draws on complexity thinking features and concepts to position teaching and learning in PAP as children and teachers together exploring three different and coupled facets: fundamental movement patterns, group movement activities and group games. The three facets are different and coupled to highlight that they can be viewed as simultaneously separate and inseparable. This allows us to make sense of each facet and remind us that they are mutually influencing. Exploring fundamental movement patterns means focusing on exploring patterns and variations associated with one or more particular movement skills and balancing skills, and doing so in the context of individual activities, group movement activities or games. Exploring group movement activities involve children moving with their bodies as they engage in rhymes, songs and stories, thereby enabling children to develop both fundamental movement skills and literacy skills. Engaging in group games focuses on supporting children to learn the nature of games as socially constructed activities with some explicit rules agreed upon by players. I position teaching and learning as acts of joint exploration that embrace diverse learners (children and teachers) and different learning outcomes for individuals. In this joint exploration, the teacher plays two important roles: (1) fostering children’s and their own confidence and competence in PAP and (2) creating conditions that simultaneously constrain and enable as they follow, generate and sustain children’s interests in their explorations together. This approach enables teachers to respond to children’s interests and co-create learning situations with children in ways that are emergent and meaningful to all. When used in conjunction with mandated curriculum frameworks, it can open up possibilities for curriculum, teaching and learning for children and teachers. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

This paper conceptualizes the teaching and learning of physically active play (PAP) in the early childhood curriculum. The conceptualization emerges from ‘doing complexivist bricolage’ and draws on complexity thinking features and concepts to position teaching and learning in PAP as children and teachers together exploring three different and coupled facets: fundamental movement patterns, group movement activities and group games. The three facets are different and coupled to highlight that they can be viewed as simultaneously separate and inseparable. This allows us to make sense of each facet and remind us that they are mutually influencing. Exploring fundamental movement patterns means focusing on exploring patterns and variations associated with one or more particular movement skills and balancing skills, and doing so in the context of individual activities, group movement activities or games. Exploring group movement activities involve children moving with their bodies as they engage in rhymes, songs and stories, thereby enabling children to develop both fundamental movement skills and literacy skills. Engaging in group games focuses on supporting children to learn the nature of games as socially constructed activities with some explicit rules agreed upon by players. I position teaching and learning as acts of joint exploration that embrace diverse learners (children and teachers) and different learning outcomes for individuals. In this joint exploration, the teacher plays two important roles: (1) fostering children’s and their own confidence and competence in PAP and (2) creating conditions that simultaneously constrain and enable as they follow, generate and sustain children’s interests in their explorations together. This approach enables teachers to respond to children’s interests and co-create learning situations with children in ways that are emergent and meaningful to all. When used in conjunction with mandated curriculum frameworks, it can open up possibilities for curriculum, teaching and learning for children and teachers. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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