Parental learning about play in community playgroup social media

Year: 2017

Author: Henderson, Michael, McLean, Kaen, Edwards, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Social media has a pervasive influence on many aspects of life and has revolutionised the way people communicate. Playgroups are not excluded from this revolution with many playgroups in Victoria now using their own Facebook sites for sharing information and connecting with other families. Playgroups are well established as benefiting parents' strong social connections and young children's learning and development outcomes but never has social media been a part of playgroups like it is today. Little is known about playgroup parents' communication practices with each other using social media and how these practices influence parental knowledge about play. Parental knowledge about play is important in the provision of play in the home and community because the quality of play in early childhood is a known influence on children's educational outcomes. The value of social media for enhancing parental knowledge about children's play cannot be fully realised without first understanding how playgroup parents are currently using social media in playgroups. As an important first step this presentation uses the socio-cultural concept of 'learning activity' to identify what parents are sharing about children's play in social media aligned to community playgroups. It reports on research conducted with parents (N=16) attending one of three community playgroups in Victoria. The findings indicated that parents shared content knowledge of children's play-based learning in the community playgroup social media. The findings suggest a potential role for social media in parental education as a collaborative learning tool. We propose a new orientation to the use of social media for parental education about play that draws upon existing funds of knowledge that parents hold about their children's play-based learning and is more strongly aligned to parents' digital life-worlds than prevaling parental education models in early childhood.