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Playing to Learn – An Examination of Two Play-Based Approaches and their Impact on the Learning and Development of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)

Marks, L (2020) Playing to Learn – An Examination of Two Play-Based Approaches and their Impact on the Learning and Development of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Often parents are concerned that their child is not being treated as an individual and that its particular needs and requirements are not recognised, or, in the case of children with SEND, ignored by the specialist professionals involved (Zablotsky et al, 2014), and in some cases by the School as a whole (Carpenter et al, 2015). Therefore, parents feel that it is necessary to pay for any extra private support their child needs, and in the case of SEND even opt for home education in order to escape the structures of a formalised, generalised education system (Badman, 2009; Parsons et al, 2009; Parsons & Lewis, 2010; Kendell & Taylor, 2016). The present study investigates two play-based approaches and how they impact upon the learning and development of children with and without SEND. These two play-based approaches have their roots in the constructivist epistemology that characterises the approach developed and advocated by Maria Montessori. The study was qualitative in nature and was itself underpinned by a social constructionist epistemological position. I chose to use three data collection methods: observation, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. These were carried out over a series of visits to the settings. Using thematic analysis and an inductive approach (Swain, 2018), I investigated the similarities and differences in the way the two settings taught children aged between two and three (without SEND) and four and seven (with SEND). The specific SEND of the children under consideration in this study was Autism Spectrum Condition. I examined a range of factors that could affect the learning and development of the children. These included the learning environment; pedagogy; methods that facilitated positive relationships between staff and children - including the key element of communication; and peer-teacher and peer-peer interactions. The impact on the children’s development is critically discussed and analysed in relation to acquisition of knowledge and play-based curricula; curriculum adaptability and flexibility, autonomy-supportive teaching and freedom of choice; independent learning and development of life skills; and physical development. This approach allowed me to gather in-depth information and to investigate group processes in detail, from a micro-perspective (Klonek et al, 2016). Based on the evidence presented in this thesis, my conclusion is that play-based approaches can be highly effective in facilitating children’s overall learning and development. They respond to the children’s interests, allow them to work at their own pace and do not pressure them to achieve learning that is beyond their capability to grasp at any particular stage.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autism Spectrum Condition; Early Years; Montessori
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Divisions: Education
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2020 12:59
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2022 13:57
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00013835
Supervisors: Vickerman, PV, Whitehead, A and Maher, A
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13835
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