Parental Awareness of Educational Play


This study will be looking at how parents of children in a groundwork stage arranging understand and value play founded activities to aid their child's learning and to consider their views on play as a fundamental element of the Early Years Foundation Level (EYFS).

Many guidelines have been presented within the last few years concerning the education of young children. Through the execution of policies which focus on supporting households, alongside initiatives like Surestart; children's welfare and education have been united as well as support being offered for parents, families and the city.

The notion of the family is currently viewed as an important part of early on year's education and parents should be inspired and valued as they are important to the health of these children and their educational benefits. Aubrey (2000) shows that early education does not happen in a void and notably, we must understand that development begins with the family and reminds us that parents are a child's first educator.

The EYFS will try to include all that is needed to ensure a child thrives in a EYFS environment, including children learn through play and parents work together with settings. Even though the EYFS is not without its critics.

This study will seek to establish the extent of parental knowing of the educational value of play in the EYFS classroom.

I have been used in the early year's sector for over fourteen years and have helped with the transition from nursery to main school for most children, including three children of my very own. During this time, I have experienced many parents whom are extremely happy for their child to be engaged in a play founded curriculum whilst in nursery education, but become concerned and surprised that children when joining university do not participate in a more set up and traditional curriculum and that the EYFS is extended into school.

The next section will review the books in the region of early on years education, and will begin by considering a few of the many definitions of play.

Literature review

This literature review, will discuss the many definitions of play. Major learning theories with regards to play, will be considered and how they have inspired education of today. It will also take a look at how plan has evolved and developed, what has described the first Years Foundation Level (EYFS) and discuss whether parents know about the benefits of a play founded curriculum or not.

What is play?

An early definition of play originates from Isaacs (1999) who viewed play as the work of children. Montessori (2005) believed that children preferred to work whilst playing. Her teaching focused on children developing basic skills, skills could include button and fastening equipment to promote independence in dressing. Though Montessori did not promote learning through play, she have value individual work as well as working as part of a group. (Lindon, 2001).

Lindon (2001) believes play is a range of activities which can be undertaken for their own pleasure, satisfaction and interest. Play is not needed for success although these activities support subconscious wellbeing, learning physical skills and intellectual stimulation.

Whereas Moyles (1989) reviews about how play is valuable as a great learning tool, he also notes the difficulties to find a definite, precise and conclusive definition of play. He carries on by saying there's a need for some other terminology to be utilized, as the idea of play can be interpreted as something trivial, rather than being viewed as play being serious and important to learning. Hardwood and Attfield (2005) recognize by recommending play cannot easily be defined or grouped as it is always dependant on scenario and framework, which may differ greatly.

It has become apparent that although there is no clear definition of play, play is known as to be important by experts in the field, although Peacocke (1987) argues that the lack of definition causes parents to be suspicious of play as a true learning activity.

Child development and play

Roussou dating back to 1700 challenged the theory that children were by natural means sinful with the opposing idea that children were by natural means innocent (Oates et al, particular date) Roussou as cited in Wood and Attfield (2005) used his knowledge to think practically about how children should be brought up and decided that children from birth to twelve, should have their natural innocence liked and should be free, to perform, jump and play all day long. Ideas over time have often challenged the current thinking of enough time and years as a child and play is rolling out and evolved because of differing new ideas, to how exactly we determine it today. Child development ideas continue being reviewed and challenged with innovative and serious ideas having a large impact on how youth has been conceptualized and children treated in modern culture.

Whilst others asked 'what do children know' Piaget as cited in Garhart Mooney, (2000) suggests that Piaget's work was about how precisely children arrived on what they know? Piaget claimed that children construct their own comprehension by giving meaning to their environment and the people they meet. Piaget (1967) known how all children of the same get older seemed to think in similar ways, and how they might also make similar blunders. In the observations Piaget known the changes in the children's thinking; this led him to believe the kid was an isolated individual, who adapts to the environment they may be in (Smith et el, 1998).

Gerhard Mooney, (2000) suggests Piaget's theory has generated the most comprehensive over view of young children and exactly how they think, although practitioners of today can easily see some of Piaget's theories aren't as purposeful as once thought, the basic ideas of his theory still helps professionals to plan a centered and challenging curriculum for small children. Lindon (2001) goes on by suggesting that it's through Piaget's beliefs that children create their own knowledge of the planet, which led him to spotlight that people should create surroundings which children can discover and find out by themselves. Cadwell (2003) advises an example of this is actually the preschools of northern Italy, Reggio Emilia that are strongly influenced by the theories of Piaget.

Vygotsky as cited in Garhart Mooney (2000) agreed with Piaget that children's knowledge was made from personal activities; although Vygotsky shows that personal and sociable experiences can't be separated which children learn from the other person every day, their words develops and they understand new ideas as they speak to each other, pay attention to one another and play along. Daniels (1996) proposes that Vygotsky found play as an important activity to aid learning and development. Vygotsky as cited in Garhart Mooney (2000) advises play combines time and chance of activities in communal interaction, vocabulary and the utilization of symbols. He believed that would empower the child's own hobbies and operate problem creating and problem solving. As cited in Brock et el (2008) Vygotsky presumed these were the equipment had a need to work within the child's area of proximal development and that whenever children are learning, they learn best when what they are learning is just outside their knowledge. Which means that practitioners should know what the kid is with the capacity of and what they can handle understanding. The child's development should then be aided by mature instruction and teamwork with peers.

Bruner (1977) sustained to build up the ideas and theories of Vygotsky. He believed that children acquired an in built want to learn. Bruner, like Vygotsky recommended that it is the task of the practitioner to know where in fact the child's development reaches and how they can take ahead the child's development to another level, he called this scaffolding.

Broadhead (2006) suggests that Vygotsky and Bruner's view is the fact the kid and adult will work mutually, and through this they'll develop new schemas. This notion has become ever more popular, and its own relevance to today's education.

Development and play

Froebel as cited in Macvanel (2009) thought that child years was a level in its own right and children weren't mini people. He felt children should learn through play, experience life first side, self choose activities and use natural determination. Froebel noticed that play was a spiritual activity which reflected deep inner procedures and change (Timber and Attfield, 2005). Montessori (2005) thought in an environment which is planned and learning activities backed training. She disregarded fantasy play stating it as insignificant and demeaning to the kid, although she provided a child sized setting in which children could learn and rehearse life skills with no adult intervening. Montessori located less emphasis on free play and fantasy play than Froebel (Montessori and Gutek, 2004). Where Montessori disregarded fantasy play, Isaacs (1995) found the value of play especially spontaneous, imaginative and manipulative play. She saw that play could be used in an effort to gratify frustrated needs, sort out inner discord and collect understanding of the earth in which children live and the connections they may have with people. Play was central to Isaacs' curriculum and asked the children to adapt problem solving techniques and develop number, draw making and reading skills (Palmer, Cooper and Bresler, 2001).

Current research completed by Play England entitled 'Play for a change', disclosed that playing experienced effects on regions of the brain controlling emotion, determination and pay back. The researchers continued by recommending that play helps children to develop a variety of replies to differing situations, encounters and relationships. To conclude it states participating in aids children in expanding flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing situations (Quarell et el, 2008). Leong (2009) agrees by declaring the research into the links between play and cognitive and social skills is apparent and that play is the first stepping stone to children learning more technical ideas as they grow older. This research increases new questions for those who view play as a trivial, simple, frivolous, unimportant, and purposeless behaviour and challenges them to recognize play for the important factor it is and the effect it has on children's learning (Christie, 2001).

Smith (2000) categorised play into five areas. He presumed that children were lively players, learners, cultural and psychological beings and autonomous players, and their play fitted into each of these areas. Lindon (2001) disagrees stating that researchers should be aware that although they really want regions of play to be plainly identified into categories, these clear categories can limit the view of play so when children play normally, they move between areas of play and adult identified regions of development easily.

A child, who is productive in play, shouldn't always be seen as just the kid engrossed in bodily active play (Lindon, 2001). Fisher (1996) agrees and highlights that a child engaged in an intellectual activity is merely as 'effective' as the child pedalling a bicycle.

Eden (2008) says that children engrossed in play with others, understand how to work together and live together, that play is a very important resource to market equality and social awareness in small children. Smith (2000) agrees by saying that children build healthy relationships using their peers and through play children have to figure out how to allow others. Bruce (2001) acknowledges that it's this enjoyment of all types of play that supports the children in play. Children think about what they have learnt, reproduce their experience and through this pattern of each day learning the children consolidate their experiences.

Curriculum and play

Since the 1944 Education Work, major teachers and staff were given substantial freedom to instruct what they believed to be educationally relevant to the children within their care and attention (Cox and Sanders, 1994). Change was bought about after the Education Reform Action (1988), namely with the intro of the National Curriculum (Cox, 1996). The nationwide curriculum was released in Sept 1989 and is also a framework employed by all maintained schools to ensure that coaching and learning is well organised, balanced and sound (directgov, 2010). Following the implementation of the nationwide curriculum, it was soon thought that the children under five would also reap the benefits of a curriculum. The Rumbold survey (1990) was important in developing tips for provision for these young children. Play and have a discussion were suggested as key techniques. The first try to explain a curriculum was called advisable final results for children's learning (1996) and included six areas of learning. (Hardwood and Attfield, 2005).

Play in the Early Years Foundation Level (EYFS)

The EYFS was integrated in 2007 and includes the Curriculum Instruction for the Foundation Stage and Delivery to Three Matters. The Effective provision of pre college education (EPPE) project, informed area of the EYFS and among other activities revealed that the encounters provided for small children in the Foundation Stage and early years settings have a solid impact on children's learning and public development (DCFS, 2008). All classes and early years settings looking after children under five years have to implement the EYFS programme and the programme ends at the end of the academics year the kid converts five (Pugh and Duffy, 2010). The EYFS places out legal requirements and path to help experts in settings meet the varied developmental and learning needs of most children under five years (Bruce, 2008).

The EYFS proposes that versatile plans are used by professionals to adapt ideas which carers use observations to link play situations to learning effects. The main premise of the EYFS is the fact that play is the central aspect and can support each of the six areas of learning (Canning and Read, 2010). For example, Pimentel (2007) shows that to build up problem solving reasoning and numeracy in young children, practitioners should be providing mathematical opportunities through play based, open ended and challenging pursuits like imaginative play, tracks and stories. Current research from Bergen (2002) agrees concluding there's a marriage between problem solving and pretend play and this communal play has a great affect on problem solving of most kinds. Worthington and Caruthers (2010) continue by recommending that parents should been proven how children explore mathematical so this means through play, to fully understand the concept. Riley (2003) shows that play opportunities offer children the chance to acquire knowledge and knowledge of the world in which they live and this play has the potential to be the major approach to children's learning.

The EYFS, promotes parents as partners as it recognises that small children whose parents are involved in their early learning make notably better progress (Evangelou, 2004). The child and the family is currently recognised all together, each able to gain the other. Initiatives such as Sure Start have confidence in educating parents to be able to educate the child. (Kurtz, 2003). Although Wiltshire (2002) argues that the whole idea of the building blocks stage is perplexing to parents as they do not know anything about its aims and results. Petrie and Hollaway, (2006) suggest some parents might not exactly be aware of the opportunities for learning that are inlayed in a play-oriented curriculum, whilst Brotherson (2009) reminds us that sometimes, parents have concerns that their child is just participating in rather than learning what they have to learn and parents must be made aware that play 'is' learning for children. Elkind (2007) carries on by expressing that parents are worried their child reaches a disadvantage if they are not constantly employed in advanced learning and educational game titles, and is also of the thoughts and opinions that parents have to be alerted and reassured of the learning benefits associated with unscheduled imaginative play situations which can only help develop their academic and social ability.

Since the EYFS has been implemented, there has been some who've criticised the effort. There are worries that a sole framework will bring about a checklist style curriculum, with practitioners being overwhelmed with the framework (Thompson, 2006). Whitebread and Whitebread (2008) agree by carrying on that although concerns over the expanse of the curriculum are nominal, there are serious concerns that in a few areas the capacities of the kids are under believed. Brock et el suggests that experts must be completely aware of the breadth and depth of play and a play centered curriculum to be able to execute the EYFS effectively and with worthwhile outcomes.

Key points

As far again as 1929 Isaac identified play as children's work, now over eighty years later the EYFS is based upon children learning through play. The EYFS principles are based on research and theory of the early year's pioneers of education, though it is argued that parents are critical and perplexed by it. Insurance policy and early year's initiatives are pushing parents to become involved with their child's care and attention, but it is improbable they will become involved and embrace the EYFS if they do not understand the ideas and concepts which it is built around. I am interested to see if parents understand the benefits of play, or like Peacocke (1978) suggests parents do not see the benefits associated with play and like Whitebread (2002) areas they are mixed up by the building blocks stage.

Research Aims

  • To uncover what knowledge parents have of the first Years Foundation stage.
  • To gather information on what parents understand are the advantages of play as a learning tool in the building blocks stage classroom.
  • To gain insight into what parents views are of an play established curriculum compared with a more 'traditional' curriculum.


This chapter can look at how the research for this review has been contacted, how I've designed the study and how it will help to answer fully the question 'Do parents of college years children value play as a learning tool to support the first Years Foundation Stage'? I will look of which ways of research have been chosen and just why, highlighting the benefits and problems adjoining the chosen methods. Validity and reliability of the study will be discussed as well as talking about ethical issues which might arise whilst undertaking the study.

Method and Approach

This piece of research is targeted upon parental views and knowing of the educational value of play, it will use qualitative methods where personal ideas will be sought. As the parent's views are paramount within the study the methodology used will be an interpretive way. Robert Holmes (2005) suggests that qualitative researchers assume that the interpersonal world is established by the distributed understanding of situations. Cresswell (2003) remains by expressing that qualitative methods bring peoples personal views into the study. Peat (2002) shows that the strengths of qualitative research include having the ability to gather information on the views of the participant which in turn can help us gain insight and ideas. However, Silverman (2005) shows that there may be limits to qualitative research such as a hypothesis can't be tested which more ethical issues relating to qualitative studies can be mentioned as participants are giving personal viewpoints and opinions.


Hughes (2001) shows that interpretive research is valid so long as it holds true and notes the genuine words of the participant. That is demonstrated through the study as the parents are dynamic people whose understandings and activities are paramount and the intricacy and variety of these viewpoints are reputed. Robert- Holmes (2005) suggests that multiple understanding of the research is all evenly important and the number of interpretations provides research validity. Although Robson (2002) implies validy is hardly ever recognised within a single study, but is built up over time during various research.

Silverman (2005) shows that validity can be damaged in qualitative research, if the researcher uses used knowledge alternatively than first hand research. I feel that I have to make note of this and be assure that I remain alert to as I feel it would be easy to permit my very own thoughts, views and opinions affect the research. Robson (2002) carries on by suggesting further concerns with validity can arise with matter to if the sample of men and women within the study is representative of the populace which must be questioned. To recognize this I am aware that the test of people I am using for my research aren't representative of the populace as a whole but is quite focused on a little band of parents within a little community, although these parents come from differing sociable backgrounds. As Bell (1999) points out researchers are dependent on the amity and option of subjects, and it can be difficult to accomplish a true arbitrary sample.

Focus group

My research will be focusing on the parents of an category of thirty children who have all started out at primary institution in Sept 2009. The principal school is defined on the edge of the Cotswolds and is the only university in a little town. The kids are from mainly white British heritage and the institution admits pupils from a wide variety of sociable backgrounds (Ofsted, 2007). Prior knowledge of the class suggests that majority of the children have attended at least one of three pre school settings in the town including two private day nurseries and a charitable preschool. I decided to research this subject after a discussion with a little group of parents who have been worried that there children were still just 'playing' now these were at 'school' rather than taking part in a lot more traditional curriculum, that these were anticipating. This made me appreciate that some parents still didn't view play as a significant learning tool to support the EYFS. I also started to question what parents really thought about play as a learning tool, their views of the huge benefits or criticisms of any play founded curriculum and if indeed they even realised that there children would be 'educated' within the EYFS when they began at primary university.


To find out the views and knowledge that the parents have of both EYFS and exactly how they view play, I will be using questionnaires and interviews. I've decided to use questionnaires as they are ideal if you want to gather a large amount of major information from several people, as advised by Green (2000). A pilot questionnaire has been designed and provided to a selection of folks who are 'similar' to the people I am giving my final questionnaire to. Once I've gathered the draft questionnaires from my pilot group, I am able to draw up my final questionnaire using any criticisms and ideas that my pilot group give me. Green (2000) shows that piloting your research questionnaire allows for the researcher to reduce any uncertainty or vagueness that your questionnaire increases.

The questions I am asking within my questionnaire are a mixture of differing sorts including open finished and closed down questions. Green (2000) shows that a mixture of question types should be used when designing questionnaires, whilst Hucker (2001) reminds us that people should ensure that questions are relevant, using straight forward terminology avoiding assumptions and using a mixture of question types and avoiding leading questions. Personally i think that since I am going to have sent an initial draft questionnaire to a pilot group of people, that the completed questionnaire I am sending to the parents will have hopefully been evolved and rethought if needed, with questions changed or added and that they will meet all the ideas of Hucker (2001) and Green (2000).

Permission will be gained from the head teacher of the school. If the top teacher is happy with the questionnaire content and the suggested methodology for the research, the questionnaire will be released to all or any thirty households within the EYFS classroom.

Ethical considerations and confidentiality

Aubrey (2000) reminds us that research workers have a work to ensure that their research can do no harm to their participants which participants will be treated with esteem and their answers treated with anonymity and confidentially. The ethics of this research include guaranteeing the anonymity of all participants also to present the information they tell me in a true light and to ensure the info remains confidential. Hucker (2001) reminds us that individuals who are involved in research have a fundamental right to know how the information accumulated about them will be used. To ensure that all parents really know what my research is about I'll enclosed a covering letter with my questionnaire outlining my intentions and the goals of the research, my details in case they wish to contact me to go over anything about the research, alongside a brief paragraph outlining who I am and why I am undertaking this research. I'll state in this letter that questionnaires will be retained confidential and at no point will anyone be able to identify parents' answers. Agreements will be made to return all questionnaires in a closed envelope to the category teacher and then exceeded onto myself. At no point will I know who may have went back their questionnaire and who has not. I recommend to the parents that the questionnaires are came back to the teacher in a closed envelope, in order that they will also not be able to view the answers given by the parents.

Hucker (2001) shows that it is an important idea to ensure triangulation in the study to show similarities over the range of methods used also to support validity and dependability in the study. Questionnaires are my first research tool and since another method to ensure triangulation, I'll ask on my questionnaires if any father or mother would like to meet with me and participate in an interview. By using several approach to research, I could hopefully show a completely curved view of the research topic as recommended by Robert-Holmes (2005) the different evidence produced can be put together and in comparison to provide a triangulated research.

To plan the interview with any parent who would like to take part, I have decided to do an unstructured interview somewhat a organized interview and also have chosen a list of questions to prompt me to guarantee the interview flows also to aid me by doing this. I've chosen to complete unstructured interviews as Robert-Holmes (2005) suggests that structured interviews are very a lot like questionnaires while unstructured interviews shifts the concentrate away from the researcher and towards the problems and the real thoughts of the participant. Bell (1999) suggests that during questionnaire the replies given by members need to be used at face value, where as during an interview abundant material can be gathered, he likens this to putting flesh on the bones of any possible questionnaire responses. Robert-Holmes (2005) implies it can be an interviewer's job to courteously pay attention to the reactions made and also to continue to be non judgemental all the time, this will be easier to do in a relaxed atmosphere. The prompts I'll use will most probably finished questions, similar for some of the questions asked in my questionnaire but in a much loser framework with the aim to permit me more in-depth home elevators my research theme and parents views on play as a learning tool and gain an understanding into their understanding of the EYFS. An open concluded question is a question where the respondent is requested to provide their own judgment or ideas (Babbie, 2009). The responses my participant provides will be documented by me in word form, but easily feel that I am missing out on significant information or not providing the participant my full attention, I might use a Dictaphone. This can be talked about with the participant and if they're not comfortable with this I will remain with take note of taking only.

I will need to address the actual fact that the individuals anonymity will have been jeopardized when doing the interview as I am going to certainly know whom they are, but I know I must ensure that they realize I will stay a confidant at all times so when quoting them or speaking about there interview in this particular study, I will use a codename for each and every participant. Participants may also be made aware that they are free to withdraw from the study at any time. Hucker (2001) reminds us that we now have many features of interviews including that they allow research workers to get more in-depth information from the members, but that disadvantages of interviews can be that the researcher make a difference the research and that the interviewer could effect the participant's answers. Green (2000) agrees recommending that interviewers must be aware that requesting leading questions can be problematic and personal bias can make the study one sided alternatively than purposeful.


To summarise this piece of research seeks personal viewpoints, therefore is a qualitative study. Areas of validity, consistency and ethical issues have been discussed and you will be taken care of throughout. Questionnaires and Semi-structured interviews will be utilized to accumulate data from a sample human population of parents with children in a EYFS class room. Though this is a little study, replies will be interesting in regards to to parental views towards views on play as a learning tool and the EYFS.

Now that the method of data collection has been proven, it is now possible to start with the data collection.

N. B After discussions with the top teacher of the primary school about the content of the questionnaires, she's asked that I include two further questions in my own questionnaire, the first being 'Where parents received their information of the EYFS' and 'If parents would like more info on the EYFS and exactly how they would like to acquire this information' The top teacher felt on an individual level for the school, that she would have the ability to use all the research showing how effectively the institution is working in collaboration with parents and where if at all they have to prolong the parents understanding of the EYFS. If the study shows that the institution needed to support the parents further that they needed to improve and how parents would like to acquire information was also important to her. I've decided to this as Personally i think it could benefit all the parents, the kids and the institution. Hucker (2001) reminds us that carrying out research helps us analyse how we might take action better or more effectively, and the top teacher of the school wanted to be able to do that from my research.

Data Collection and Analysis

This chapter will discuss the data, how it was gathered, analysed and interpreted. It'll initially discuss the data collection process, any problems that i experienced and the successes I had. Specific themes or templates will be identified and acknowledged alongside a short explanation on the examination of the info and exactly how this data links back to you to current books. Once the key styles have been recognized, they will be examined and mentioned in more detail, that will lead towards the conclusion of the data and the summarisation of the primary themes.

Data collection

Permission was granted by the top teacher of a primary school for me personally to carry out this research within the school, she arranged as the results would be good for parents, children and personnel.

A notice of advantages was then allocated to the foundation stage category parents alongside a questionnaire. The notice outlined the research, and the parents were asked if indeed they would complete the questionnaire and also take part in an interview. Altogether, thirty parents were invited to participate in the analysis.

Problems with data collection

On mailing out the questionnaires, the initial response was low and after the first week only five parents acquired went back their questionnaire and none of them of these parents had agreed to additionally doing an interview. Blaxter et el (2006) shows that even if an institution looks positively after the study to be completed, it does not mean that the info collection process will run effortlessly and trouble free.

A reminder poster was exhibited at the school and by the finish of the next week sixteen questionnaires have been returned to me, but only four of the parents had decided to participate in an interview. Alas only three of the parents commenced with interviews, the remaining one cancelled scheduled interviews on two situations and then withdrew from the analysis. Hucker (2001) reminds us that interviews can be expensive in terms of your energy, especially when members cancel and interviews have to be rearranged.

Success in data collection

53% of parents came back their questionnaires completed, whilst only 18. 75% of the parents decided to participate in yet another interview. On the three parents who decided to participate in an additional interview, one was male and two female. Interviews were transcribed and came back to respondents to erase or amend commentary, although they only made minimal changes if any.

Method of analysis

Coffee and Atkinson (1996) claim that the evaluation of qualitative data often commences with the researcher determining key themes and patterns. Robert-Holmes (2005) shows that a researcher should know their literature adjoining their research subject matter to allow them to recognise differing emerging styles. To get this done I have looked at all the info I have collected from the sixteen questionnaires and both interviews and have identified three producing themes. The topics are the following:


Knowledge of the EYFS

The school I had been undertaking my research in wished to really know what knowledge the parents experienced on the EYFS and where they had gained their knowledge from.

From the questionnaires compiled 30% of parents acknowledged that they had no prior understanding of the EYFS, while 10% claimed to acquire lots of previous knowledge. 20% of parents recognized the EYFS was based mostly around learning through play, whilst 15% of parents suggested appropriately that the EYFS is a statutory requirement.

During interviews, parents were asked about understanding of the EYFS, parents gave the following replies:

"I understand very little concerning this, I thought it was something H performed at nursery, will it really continue onto college, I just presumed it was something the nursery does and didn't realise H did it at institution too. " (Mother or father 1)

"Its changed to this pretty recent, I believe, I don't keep in mind L doing it at institution, they did something else I believe, its just an extension of what they do at nursery, I believe. K plays a lot more now in institution than L do when she was for the reason that course" (Parent 2)

"I have already been involved in early years for a long time, so I obviously find out about the EYFS. (Father or mother 3)

Parents were then asked where they had gained their understanding of the EYFS from. Parents who completed questionnaires gave the following data, which has been analysed and the pie chart below configured.

How have parents gained knowledge on the EYFS?

As you can view from the pie chart above, majority of the parents have received information from a environment previous to the kid beginning school, while 29% of parents got received no information by any means. Interestingly only 5% of parents experienced gathered knowledge from the mass media/news.

A parent who I interviewed broadened on their original questionnaire answer, and discussed the following regarding where they gained information on the EYFS.

"I've heard bits and pieces concerning this in the documents, aren't they describing it as some kind of baby nappy curriculum, or something, I don't know much more than that" (Parent or guardian 1)

I asked if parents would like to know more about the EYFS, a massive 75% of parents questioned would like more information from the school and 44% would like this information in the form of newsletters.

Learning through Play

One reoccurring theme which became visible through out the data collection was that children learn through play.

Parents were asked what children learnt from play. The next graph shows there answers.

What do children learn from play?

As you can see most the parents saw the benefits in play relating to the introduction of interpersonal skills and studying the world, whereas less parents found the advantages of play in growing children s letter popularity and counting.

From the interviews parents shown on what they thought children learnt from play, their answers are as follows;

"Well, they learn ways to get on with one another and how the world is, most of us result from different places and also have different ideas and people, they have to find out about this and I think they do when they play" (Mother or father 1)

"They learn how to socialise and problem solve, I suppose they learn atlanta divorce attorneys area, even the maths things but not around all the interpersonal products" (Mother or father 2)

"Children aren't just playing without a goal 'they find out about their letters and text, figures, colours, times of the week, the planet in which we live, I possibly could go on and on' play can stretch their knowledge in every area" (Parent 3)

One of the parents illustrated how children can learn through play. She informed about her son who was simply 'playing' with a doctor's set. Though he was having a great time playing with it, he was also learning the labels of various areas of the body, as he examined his family.

Though it was noticeable that almost all of the participants thought children learn through play, practically all parents interviewed and through the questionnaires still concentrated upon the social skills which could be increased during most activities.

Parents were asked if they thought that children learnt more from spontaneous play or by using educational toys and games. Eleven parents noticed the benefits of both types of play/playthings for healthy development of their child, whilst three parents assumed spontaneous play to be more beneficial in support of two parents presumed that educational toys were more beneficial to spontaneous play.

One father or mother at interview talked about the distinctions in children and explained that his eldest child have been very interested at five in educational gadgets especially jigsaw puzzles and Lego blocks, where in fact the more youthful child at five savored nothing more than playing around in the garden and pretending to vary people in different situations. He concluded by stating:

"There should be similar benefits in both types of play as both children appear to be doing well and learning what they have to know" (Mother or father 1)

Another father or mother at interview commented on a single question by saying:

"Children learn in exactly what they do, everything that they play with has some learning attached to it, yes educational playthings have their place, but spontaneous play should never be over looked as the huge benefits are enormous" (Father or mother 3)

I sustained by requesting the parents the way they noticed play could support the six areas of learning within the EYFS. To as not to presume anything, I asked the parents if indeed they recognized about the six regions of learning. 69% of the parents who completed the questionnaire weren't aware of the six areas of learning. The parents were then given the headings of the six areas of learning and asked to report the areas someone to six with one being the area in which they believed play would be the most beneficial and six being minimal.

Parents sensed that play would be minimal beneficial in helping learning in the region of Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy. This development was extended through the discussions with the individuals in the interviews, with participants saying:

"I could observe how play helps teach the children public skills and communication, and physical development, I believe the least beneficial will be the maths things" (Parent or guardian 1)

"I think the most beneficial could be the social and psychological things and understanding of the entire world and least most likely the maths" (Mother or father 2)

Play established curriculum

The last theme centred around parent's views on a play structured curriculum for their child in the EYFS. Parents were asked if they noticed play was a proper learning tool in the EYFS classroom. 75% of the parents who completed the questionnaires strongly decided that play was an appropriate learning tool, where as the remaining 25% of parents only arranged.

75% of parents questioned highly agreed that they assumed children learn best from a play based curriculum while 25% disagreed with this question.

The members from the interviews commented that:

"I think play has its place, although I am not sure it can be really classed as a curriculum, they may actually play a lot more now than they have in this category a few years ago" (Parent or guardian 2)

"A play established curriculum, with high quality coaching should be all the is on offer to this years children" (Parent or guardian 3)

50% of parents buy into the statement, I assume that the real learning starts later on when children learn with in a far more traditional curriculum. While the remaining 50% of parents questioned disagreed or highly disagreed with this declaration. Parents who participated within the interviews commented:

"I believe they learn various things down the road, maybe more educational, in the class H is at now he's still learning about himself and where he fits in. Not less important, just different" (Parent or guardian 1)

"No I don't agree with that statement in any way, all learning is important and we learn different things at different age range" (Father or mother 3)

31 % of parents who completed the questionnaires decided that they noticed children put in to much time playing within the EYFS platform, while 69% disagreed or firmly disagreed with this assertion.

A parent or guardian commented within her interview

"I don't necessarily disagree with the children playing, though it does appear that is all they actually, but if it has been proven this is the easiest way this era child will learn, then that's fine, I do think perhaps a little bit more framework with less play may be more beneficial" (Parent 2)

A parent who have trained the EYFS, commented within her interview

"Children of the age can't spend enough time playing, that's what it's about" (Mother or father 3)

Lastly, the parents were asked about their views on the appropriateness of the EYFS for a university setting up. 63% of parents highly agreed that the Early Years Foundation Stage was befitting college aged children, while 37% of parents who completed questionnaires arranged that the EYFS was not appropriate for institution age group children.

Comments completed by the parents who were interviewed stated

"Well I am presuming it is suitable for these children or they wouldn't be carrying it out, the thing is will it all change again when something new will come in" (Parent or guardian 2)

"The EYFS, is in my opinion the most likely curriculum we've had for children, many children on the continent do not begin formal schooling until much later and their children are out glowing ours, so taking this task back from a normal curriculum, is a part of the right way, but that's just my estimation!" (Parent 3)


To summarise this section, after data collection and examination, lots of themes were diagnosed. All parents were given the same opportunities to take part in the study no participant had an unfair advantages.

The main designs identified were understanding of the EYFS, learning through play and a play founded curriculum. The final response rate of 53% of parents returning their questionnaires was adequate, although the low response rate of 18% of parents happy to participate in interviews was disappointing. The results of the questionnaires and the interviews are actually interesting.

Responses showcase, that parents know hardly any about the EYFS, but feel it's the best kind of curriculum for this age of child and this although parents are aware of the child's capability to learn through play, in reality nearly all parents see play as a task which assists children's cultural skills mainly and fail in some example to see how play can become a learning tool for other areas of your child's development.

The next section will consider how the results from the study relate with current books in the region.

Discussions and recommendations

This chapter will begin by giving a summary of the research findings with a discussion throughout the three main topics and how they may be related to the books in this particular area. A dialogue will follow on the constraints as well as the guidelines for future activities and research. This will conclude the chapter, where the primary points of the study will be bought mutually.

Discussion of findings

The primary goal of this research was to research whether parents of school get older children value play as a learning tool to aid the EYFS?

There were three major topics identified within the last chapter.

  • Knowledge parents possessed on the EYFS.
  • Parents views on play as a learning tool.
  • Parental views on a play established curriculum.

Knowledge of the EYFS

Wiltshire (2002) argues that the whole idea of the foundation stage is complicated to parents as they do not know anything about its aims and results which is in contrast among the important strands of the EYFS is the fact that providers will continue to work tightly with parents (Directgov, 2010).

From the information gathered it appears that 30% of parents realized little or nothing about the EYFS, meaning these parents and their children have never been working in partnership with the school setting as suggested nearly as good practice for those working within the EYFS.

Parents at interview didn't seem to realise that the EYFS sustained from nursery in to the institution environment, and the info suggests that the largest percentage of parents accumulated their information about the EYFS from a arranging their child attended previous to starting school.

One parent's main knowledge of the EYFS originated from media by itself. Steve Alexander, leader of the Preschool Learning Alliance as cited in Watson (2008) says that ill evidence and feeling style confirming is triggering parents to question and make intricate decisions about the advantages of the EYFS, whilst Beverly Hughes as cited in Watson (2008) persists by stating that the critics are dispersing uncertainty and myths amongst parents causing concern and doubt. Surely parents have to be made aware of the EYFS which would possibly encourage a deeper understanding, as well as challenging any pre-conceived notions parents may have.

Learning through play

Quarell ET el brings ahead research from Play England suggesting that children learn in many differing areas when working with play as a learning tool. Scales and Alward (1999) also suggest that children profit through play by creating knowledge in every areas of development. Bredekamp and Copple (1997) as cited in Cooney et el (2004) suggests some play supporters focus on the huge benefits for cognitive development, some see the social and emotional benefits and others the consequences on engine skills. Some high light the advantages of imagination, others start to see the results in differing areas, but everyone agrees that play benefits children's development.

During the info collection level, it became apparent that the parents noticed play as beneficial mainly in producing children's interpersonal skills. The reality that children establish human relationships through the setting of play is alone an idea that has been understood for a long time. Smith (2000) suggests that children learn to interact with others and subsequently find out where they belong within their world. Parent's views suggest that they could observe that children's play benefited many areas, including understanding of the world, although many parents didn't see the benefits associated with play in enhancing children's quantity and letter acknowledgement as well as keeping track of. Pound (2008) shows that parents needs to recognize that maths is about life, everything children 'play' with has learning opportunities for mathematical development. Sand, blocks, wheel toys and games and role play, all have opportunities for children to learn in a mathematical context.

The data gathered regarding the question above on the huge benefits children gain from play, is shown in the question regarding which section of learning play benefits most. This data also suggested that most the parents didn't start to see the benefits associated with play in enhancing development of problem solving, reasoning and numeracy, although one mother or father who had trained the EYFS suggested that 'play could boost every area of learning equally, it was down to the training opportunities provided by the practitioner' (mother or father 3). Kelly (2009) suggests that children who enjoy wealthy and diverse play opportunities will develop desirable benefits, behaviour and knowledge. The EPPE task outlines the importance of practitioners been highly certified to provide children the most effective learning opportunities open to stretch their development.

The data accumulated suggests that majority of the parents could start to see the great things about both educational and spontaneous play; with one father or mother at interview discussing that one of these children savored educational gadgets, whilst the other benefited from spontaneous play and recommended 'that both ways of learning must be beneficial because they are doing fine!' Bruce (2001) agrees recommending it is through all types of play that children learn and develop correctly and it is positive to see that majority of parents start to see the benefits and disagree with Elkind (2007) who advises parents are concerned their child reaches a disadvantage if they are not permanently engaged in advanced learning and educational toys and games.

Play curriculum

When the first nursery university was opened by Robert Owen in 1816, unstructured free play was thought to be a highly effective learning chance for young children (Kwon, 2002). Isaacs (1929) appeared upon play as the very important work of children. He suggested that it was through play the kid could experiment, and explore the world around them. This is when children could get started to acknowledge and appreciate the effects of situations, and in so doing, develop their learning. Smith and Pelligrini (2008) continue by recommending that within an EYFS environment experts should ensure that they include good opportunities for genuine free play, but there also needs to be chance of play that is set up and improved by parents.

The data suggests that although parents observe that play can be an appropriate learning tool for children as mentioned of their completed questionnaire, two out of the three parents interviewed portrayed concern of the amount of time children spend participating in. The Foundation Stage (QCA/DfEE, 2000) which was combined with Birth to three things to provide us with the EYFS advises within that platform that from the child's viewpoint no difference between 'play' and 'work' is made. It might then be argued that parents also have to acquire this view, if they want the youngster to fully take advantage of the EYFS.

50% of parents still believe that the true learning happens later when children are unveiled to a more traditional curriculum. Wardle (1987) shows that more and more parents expect their young children to be learning academic skills and there is absolutely no room kept for child centred play. Petrie and Hollaway, (2006) also suggest some parents may not be aware of the opportunities for learning that are inlayed in a play-oriented curriculum.

Limitations of the study

As with many research studies, this review also had its limitations. The study was not testing a hypothesis and the results from the data are only highly relevant to the specific setting in which I accumulated them from. If the research was to be repeated, a larger sample size could be utilized and a longer period level may be beneficial. This might allow larger quantities of data to be gathered which could cause differing results.

Although all parents received the chance to participate within the study, I was limited to gathering information from all parents whom were pleased to participate; with a more substantial scale of members a true arbitrary sample of the populace could be preferred. The actual time period limit and wordage of the piece of research was the final limitation. It would be interesting to analyze this subject in a more comprehensive manner, without having to be limited by test, time and wordage limitations.

Implication for plan and research

A proportion of the parents who participated in this study, commented through questionnaire and interview that they had limited knowledge, if the EYFS and a play based curriculum. Further questions within the questionnaires and interviews exposed how some parents are aware of the great things about play, but many still have concerns about how long children are playing whilst at college and how this play matches in to the learning benefits for the EYFS.

The results of this study could be used in school insurance policies, especially in motivating parents to be true lovers in their child's education. As Hannon (1995) suggests schools should recognize the probable of parents and be alert to their abilities to be a highly inspiring teaching make. Although Wiltshire (2002) argues, parents are perplexed by the guidelines and routines of the foundation level, it is improbable that they would ever be companions in the training process.

Parents responding within the questionnaires that the majority of them wish to learn about the EYFS and would like to receive information by means of newsletters, e-mails and workshops. This information should enable the institution to provide trainings and information for parents, which would be of great benefit to staff, family members and the wider school community.


Though this analysis did have certain constraints, it was able to identify the amount of parental knowledge regarding the EYFS and to start to explore parent's views on play as a learning tool. Parents were very alert to the social great things about play, and majority did recognise the actual fact that children can learn a great deal through play and that parents saw the benefits of a myriad of play, although their was concerns about how precisely play could benefit some areas of learning.

This knowledge will now be utilised by the institution involved. Hopefully the release of workshops or sensible periods for parents and children, where they can learn collectively, will be successfully established to be able to ensure that parents become true lovers in their children's education.


I attempt to answer fully the question "Do parents of college age children value play as a learning tool to support the EYFS" The analysis has begun to answer this question.

The research has mentioned that the parents require more info on the EYFS plus some believe that they are not getting enough information from the school. It is accepted that the results also confirm Wiltshire's (2002) study, where it was argued that parents are baffled by the idea of the Foundation level, and I feel that this recommendation, will also be true with regards to the EYFS. As the research highlighted, most parents found benefits in play and could see how it could be used to help children develop, even though some parents were unacquainted with the benefits associated with play from an educational perspective, especially regarding the area related to problem solving, reasoning and numeracy.

However, the limited timescale and the actual fact that the study was carried out in only one setting, does not permit the researcher to make any sweeping generalisations. The analysis provides some interesting data regarding parental understanding, but is merely relevant to the one EYFS setting that the study was completed within. Because of this, we cannot generalise and say that the conclusions are true to all parents in all EYFS options.

To improve this study, the research could be carried out in several locations, inner city, as well as rural, to encourage further validity within the results. Any more study may possibly also include other sociable variables such as competition, class or religion, which allows for a more in-depth examination of parental knowledge of the EYFS and their views on play as a learning tool.

On a good note this study can now be applied to build up and build after parents existing knowledge, and permit them to become more included as associates in the children's education, permitting them to learn and believe in what their children are participating in.

The major problem now lies in exchanging information with parents to educate them in the benefits associated with a play curriculum and instruct them in the EYFS. If successful, there will be advantages to the parents, children and ultimately the institution.

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