You may think your child is at kindergarten but chances are they think they’re working.
At least that's according to a study from QUT’s Dr Maryanne Theobald and Professor Susan Danby. They observed a group of inner city kindergarten kids who were asked to describe what they were doing after watching a video of what they did during the day. 'Playing’ was not something that came to mind.
"Even when children who watched themselves using paints or blocks were asked 'is this playing?', they would say 'no'," Dr Theobald said.
"The children listed such activities as painting, building, sitting on the mat with the teacher, 'walking around deciding what to do', talking and rest time as not 'playing'.
"When asked about reading stories and listening to music, children rejected the notion this was 'play' but insisted these tasks were 'listening'.”
What they did accept as ‘playing’ including dress-ups, climbing outside or role play.
"It seems that 'play' to kids has social and/or active elements."
Dr Theobald said the children in the study were gently questioned by their kindy teacher as they watched videos of that day's activities.
"They tended to first describe what they were doing in specific, work-oriented terms - such as 'building' - 'we built the thing up so the wood wouldn't break'.
"The study showed us that children and their teachers describe play from different standpoints," Dr Theobald said.
"It highlights how children's own perspectives could change our everyday concepts such as 'play' when studying early childhood education.
"Perhaps that's why the children say 'walking around deciding what to do' is not play because they are planning and setting tasks for themselves which they then try to work through with others.
"They are not haphazardly picking up random items and doing something with them."
Dr Theobald said children used 'play' to explore and gather information about the world.
She said that guided questioning by parents or teachers can help children develop higher order thinking skills as they perform their chosen activities.