Using a mosaic approach to explore caregivers' perspectives of play and playgroup.

Year: 2019

Author: Thomas, Melanie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Play has long been seen in Western-European countries as an inherent part of early childhood and as a way that children learn, however, this may not be true for all cultures. With a focus on play in early childhood recognised by Australian state, territory and national governments through the implementation of the National Early Years Learning Framework, it is important to consider the role play has in children’s lives. Playgroup participation has been identified as one way of increasing children’s access to play-based learning experiences in early childhood. This is because play is the primary activity provided to children at playgroup and caregivers attend with their children. Despite interest in promoting playgroup participation by families living in culturally diverse communities little is known about caregivers living in culturally diverse communities’ motives for and values about play and how these influence and/or constrain playgroup participation. This paper reports on the innovative methodological approach used in a PhD study which explores the perspectives of play and playgroup held by caregivers living in a culturally diverse community in Melbourne.

This qualitative research draws on cultural-historical theory and specifically Hedegaard’s (2009) model of learning and development through participation in institutional practice, to understand caregivers’ perspectives of their motives for and values about play and the institution of playgroup. The research used a mosaic approach (Clark, 2010) to gain insight into the different perspectives of participating caregivers. A mosaic approach involves multiple methods of data collection, is participatory research and engages the participant and the researcher in reflection on meanings. Three stages in the data process (Clarke, 2010) are described to show 1) gathering participant and researcher perspectives; 2) discussing and reflecting on perspectives; and 3) co-constructing meaning based on individual and shared perspectives. The paper shows how the different ways of sharing the in-depth perspectives that caregivers offer were acknowledged throughout the data process using a variety of research pieces to create a co-constructed map between each participant and the researcher as a mosaic representation of each caregiver’s, individual, institutional and societal perspectives of play and playgroup.

Clark, A. (2010). Transforming Children’s Spaces. Oxon, U.K.:Routledge.

Hedegaard, M. (2009). Children's development from a cultural-historical approach: Children's activity in everyday local settings as foundation for their development. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16, 64-81.