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"But They're Only Playing": Interpreting Play to Parents

by Renatta M. Cooper
January/February 1999
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/but-theyre-only-playing-interpreting-play-to-parents/5012555/

Good practice in early childhood education, as defined by the progressive educators whose voices dominate the profession, emphasizes the role of play in a child's learning. This concept of play- based education is in conflict with the ideas that many parents have about the kind of education their children should have. Parent perspectives on play vary and are largely based on their own educational experiences, social class, and cultural norms and values.

African-American parents typically have very fundamentalist values when it comes to the education of their children. Both parents who were successful and those who were unsuccessful in school themselves are skeptical of educational innovations that appear trendy or lacking in substance. School is for work; and if you work hard, it can help you get ahead.

Immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America often share a view of "the educaci¢n of their children, that is, raising them to be responsible members of society as they understand it." (Vald‚s, 1996, p. 180)

School, in this value system, is not for playing around. It is where you practice obedience, respect, and the work ethic. In both African-American and Latino cultural models, play is considered an amusing part of childhood; but it isn't viewed ...

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