The Value of Play

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Kidz Newz no. 135 – 18th June 2014

Welcome to Kidz Newz, especially to all new subscribers, including all those who subscribed at EYES last month in Perth – thank you and welcome. Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children. You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list. Thank you. Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to. Feedback is welcome. Don’t forget to stay in touch on our Facebook Page and watch out for our exclusive fan page competitions.

EYES 2014 (Early Years in Education Society) Winners

Congratulations go to Carla Holmes and Sonya Orford – winners of the Scarf Magic packs at the recent EYES Conference in Perth. Thank you to all who entered the competition.

ECCPA 2014 (Early Childhood Conference of Performing Arts)

This conference will be held in Melbourne on the weekend of 16th-17th August. I will be presenting on Scarf Magic – using scarves in your music and movement class – as well as running a trade table so if you are planning on being there, make sure you drop by to say hello.

End of Financial Year Special!

You have two weeks only to grab this special. (Expires midnight 30th June) Contact me directly on or 0410 642 781.

Scarf Magic Pack – HALF PRICE! Now just $27.50! Contains 40 page book, 2 scarves and DVD.

The Value of Play

One of the discussion papers presented at the EYES Conference was from the Alliance for High Quality Education in the Early Years of Schooling. It was authored by Associate Professor Jenny Jay, President ECAWA, Dr Sandra Hesterman, Executive Committee member of ECAWA, and Dr Marianne Knaus, OMEP. In this paper the authors emphasised the importance of play-based learning in the early years setting and how this model was being eroded by the impact of standardised testing in Western Australia.

This topic is dear to my heart. Every child learns in a different way and at his or her own pace. The best way and, I feel, most obvious way of achieving this is through play-based learning, and yet as has been so ably pointed out in this discussion paper, teachers are being pressured by principals who are being pressured by governments to go back to the ‘3 Rs’ style of learning – YUK!!! They erroneously believe that teaching to a test applies to even very young children and thus display gross ignorance of how young children learn and develop. From this position of ignorance, how can they possibly know what constitutes best practice or high quality education in an early years setting? It is vital that early childhood teachers continue to use play-based learning and be supported by their principals, rather than feeling pressured into doing what they know is not in the children’s best interests.

The authors state in their Abstract on the Value of Play

  • Play is a child’s natural dominant learning approach and contributes to their knowledge and skill development across the cognitive, linguistic, social/emotional, creative and physical domains, while also providing a solid foundation for future learning.
  • Educators and young children co-construct learning through play activities creating a bridge between play and more complex learning.
  • It is vitally important that early years’ classrooms retain learning centres and activities which offer children opportunities to engage in meaningful play-based learning experiences.

The authors go on to quote from Whitebread (2012, p.3) –

“The value of play is increasingly recognised by researchers and within the policy arena, for adults as well as children, as the evidence mounts of its relationship with intellectual achievement and emotional well-being.”

I was horrified to learn that despite the overwhelming evidence of play-based learning over many decades, we are still in the ‘dark ages’ when it comes to best practice, refusing to accept the evidence and going back to ‘the good old days’ which we all know were far from being ‘good’. I feel like we are beating our heads against a brick wall at times. So, my plea to you is this – stick to your guns! You know what constitutes best practice. Don’t be bullied. Be articulate. Stand up and be counted. Your voice DOES count!

Quotes of the Week

To practise any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.
– Kurt Vonnegut

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.
– George Bernard Shaw

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

Play is the highest form of research
– Albert Einstein


Fabulous for early childhood, very creative, so many ideas we can use in our own ways. Jane Nicholas, Primary Music Specialist, Willandra PS Perth WA.


Play-based learning can take many forms –

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9355 4890 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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