Play is identified as a key context for learning within the Early Years Learning Framework and is one of the foundations on which the Flinders Philosophy is built. Drawing on Shipley’s (2008) definition, the Philosophy states; “Play is voluntary, symbolic, pleasurable, meaningful, active, process-oriented and intrinsically motivated”. The National Quality Standard, which is the basis for assessment and rating for early childhood services in Australia, details the importance of play for children through Quality Area 1: Educational Program and Practice, stating that children should be observed engaging in long periods of uninterrupted play.
Play is, therefore, essential to children’s learning and the foundation of all curriculum decision making at Flinders. Play is considered when selecting resources, designing environments, and planning provocations for learning. Periods of uninterrupted play are considered when planning the daily routine. Play is the central context for learning, around which all curriculum decision making orbits. Play requires educators to be intentional in all aspects of their practice, from the way they move and talk, to the way they observe and document, to the way they assess and plan.
As many wise people have said, “Play is the work of childhood.” Therefore it is our work, the work of early childhood educators.