Building teacher and student relationships in play-based learning: the role of the teacher in creating joyful learning experiences.

Researchers often argue that play is an important medium for children’s learning and is important to children’s academic, intellectual, social, and emotional development (Nolan & Paatsch, 2018; Stagnitti, Unsworth & Rodger, 2000; Zosh et al., 2018).

Through engagement in meaningful and purposeful play with others, children experience the opportunity to engage within their Zone of Proximal Development ( ZPD), scaffolding their learning to the next level of development (Paatsch, Casey, Stagnitti & Green, 2023 (submitted for publication); Stagnitti, 2021). Engage with competent players in a social peer play space will enhance children’s thinking, language, social-emotional and self-regulation abilities (Stagnitti, 2021; Vygotsky 1967,1978).

The role of the teacher becomes significant here in supporting children to engage within their zone of proximal development, in meaningful and joyful manner (Paatsch, Casey, Stagnitti & Green, 2023 (submitted for publication)). 

Drawing on Dr. Jennifer Zosh and colleagues’ (2018) work in redefining play as a spectrum, this workshop will explore teaching strategies that may be implemented in a guided play approach. Combining theoretical underpinnings from Learn To Play (Stagnitti, 2021), in which a humanistic lens is assumed, with education based research on pedagogical expertise in a play-based context, strategies, including scaffolding, modelling, facilitating and classroom set up will be explored.

Participants attending this workshop will have an opportunity to engage with colleagues and practice strategies outlined within the workshop. Opportunities for reflection upon how the strategies can be implemented in the education setting will be available. Attending the workshop ‘Identifying and observing children's unique patterns of changing complexity in play development’ is highly recommended. Effective teaching strategies requires the adult to understand the child’s current level of play complexities, and therefore their zone of proximal development within a play-based context (Stagnitti, Unsworth & Rodger, 2000).

    Target Audience: 
    Educators/ Practitioners



    Dr Casey Siobhan 

    Casey SiobhanDr. Siobhan Casey is a paediatric occupational therapist with over 15 years' experience in working with children, families and educators. She was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy with Deakin University in 2018. Dr. Casey’s doctorate explored the role of pretend play and self-regulation in supporting resilience within the early years. She is currently delivering training both nationally and internationally to a wide audience with Learn To Play, Melbourne, and engages as a casual academic with the Masters of Play Therapy, Deakin University. She has completed the full Masters of Play Therapy qualifications in 2023.

    Dr. Casey has co-authored publications and a new book with colleagues Prof. Lousie Paatsch, Emmeritus Prof. Karen Stagnitti, and educator and play therapist Amity Green. Due for publication in September, Learning Through Play, outlines why and how play should be implemented within the context of the Australian Curriculum.  She continues to work closely with schools and early educators in supporting a developing understanding of the complexity of play and the underlying processes, and principles in supporting joyful learning.

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