Originally published in 1989, Play, Exploration and Learning was a valuable contribution to the evaluation of nursery practice in Britain at the time, this ‘natural history’ of the activities of children and caring adults presents a comparative study of four types of provision for the under-fives: nursery schools, nursery classes, playgroups and day nurseries. All four types of provision are seen as happy, busy, caring environments, but they vary greatly in terms of staffing levels, training and material provision.

The authors look at the ‘play’ of three- to five-year-old children and the activities of the adults who care for them. They examine in detail children’s choices of materials and their use of them, with special attention given to the way language is used by both children and adults during play. They also describe adults’ expectations of the various provisions and the values of the activities pursued in them. Of special interest is the emphasis placed by adults upon fantasy play, and the often large discrepancy between expectation and practice. Also covered are the difference in the play activities of part-time and full-time nursery school children, and the transition from pre-school to first school.

The book will still be of historical interest to pre-school practitioners, to developmental psychologists and to educational administrators.

part |52 pages

The Pre-School Context

chapter Chapter 2|13 pages

The context of the study

part |116 pages

What happens in different pre-school provisions?

chapter Chapter 4|9 pages

Adults' activities in pre-school

chapter Chapter 5|18 pages

Children's activities in pre-school

chapter Chapter 6|17 pages

Use of materials

chapter Chapter 7|18 pages

Fantasy play

chapter Chapter 8|10 pages

Attention and choice of activity

chapter Chapter 9|26 pages

Use of language

chapter Chapter 10|8 pages

Adjustment of new children

part |36 pages

What do children learn from pre-school?

chapter Chapter 12|9 pages

Intervening in fantasy play

chapter Chapter 13|16 pages

Play and learning

chapter Chapter 14|9 pages

From nursery to reception class

part |29 pages

The findings and implications of the study

chapter Chapter 15|14 pages

Summary of findings

chapter Chapter 16|13 pages

Some implications of this study