ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
National membership 
organisation

Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal

 

Do You Allow (Or Even Encourage) Gun Play?

 

By Tim Kahn (from London)

Tim Kahn writes his thoughts about the superhero and weapon’s play that is often indulged in relentlessly by a small group of boys – and less persistently by another group of boys and a few girls.

In the last ten years, such play was outlawed by most – if not all – UK early years settings though as the article says, this is changing dramatically. Are there some lessons here for NZ settings? 

 

Starting with the child

The Early Years Foundation Stage (the curriculum that guides settings in the UK) states in Paragraph 1.9: “Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.” Then in paragraph 1.10 it says: “In planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn and reflect these in their practice.” In other words, effective learning for young children starts from their interests. Practitioners instinctively and logically know this is true.

More and more settings use their children’s interests as the starting point for their curriculum. However, there is one area where this was not happening and this was pointed out in 2003 by Penny Holland, an early years academic, in her book We Don’t Play with Guns Here1. Holland recognised that a zero-tolerance attitude had grown up towards one area of the curriculum – that of war, weapons and superhero play – often indulged in persistently by a group of boys (and a small number of girls).

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