Promoting Early Literacy Through Play-based Learning: Supporting the Foundations of Early Literacy Through Child-Directed Play

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Mohamed, Dina
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Learning literacy in the pre-school years is dominated by play-based practices, but as children enter the formal school system literacy instruction takes a more systematic and explicit form. There is a significant body of literature that acknowledges the numerous benefits of child- directed play that outweigh teacher-directed instruction, but despite the proven evidence of the benefits of play, there remains a tendency towards explicit teacher-directed instruction in the early years. Moreover, play is often regarded as spontaneous, chaotic, and an environment where learning is accidental and unplanned. This research study will investigate how intentional, purposeful literacy learning through child-directed play can support the foundations of early literacy. The research uses secondary qualitative data analysis guided by a constructivist approach to investigate the following research questions: 1. How can intentional, purposeful literacy learning through play support the foundations of early literacy? 2. How does the educators’ role influence the intentionality and purposefulness of play? The investigation involved reflexive thematic analysis of data, that consisted of images and discussions. Key findings highlight the foundational literacy building blocks that occur in a play-based environment, as well as underscore intentional practices of educators in the pre-primary program. Thus, drawing attention to the use of intentional purposeful play to promote the foundations of literacy which can have far reaching impact on literacy learning practices.