7-3 | More Play, Please

Meghan Lynch

The past decade has seen an increase in research documenting the benefits of children learning through play. However, the amount of play in American kindergarten classes remains on a steady decline. This article compares the findings from a netnographic study of seventy-eight kindergarten teachers’ message board discussions about play in kindergarten with those of more traditional studies and finds the teachers’ discussions in broad agreement with past research. The results further demonstrate that kindergarten teachers feel pressures from other teachers, principals, and school policies to focus on academic goals and that these pressures lead them to limit play. The author argues for further research to develop effective strategies to help teachers include play in kindergartens rather than merely increasing teacher awareness of the benefits of play. She details how a netnographic approach can complement traditional methods for understanding how teachers treat play in their classrooms. Key words: kindergarten; netnography; No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB); play-based teaching; Social Ecological Theory (SET)

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