The researcher is an advocate of children and their best interests which is why she decided to pursue a topic that is close to her heart. In her experience with children, she has discovered how play can be an effective tool in learning new concepts. Knowing that a child’s family is a great influence on their learning and development, the researcher also found it interesting to explore how parents regard play and if they view play similarly to how the children’s teachers in the foundation stage do. Developments in education point to the benefits of collaboration between the home environment and the school in the facilitation of children’s growth, learning and development. Wood argues that the Government endorses literacy and numeracy strategies that make use of play especially in the early years and the fact that parents are expected to take part in their children’s learning may press parents to seriously consider the advantages and disadvantages of play. However, Wiltshire claims that parents question what the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has to offer their children as it is heavily play based. Research reveals that parents recognise the value of play but are sometimes confused about its function in children’s learning. If the parents’ view is that play is merely for entertainment and social purposes, then it is doubtful that parents will become fully involved as partners in their children’s education.
The specific objectives of this research are as follows: 1. To research related literature in order to define play 2. To identify the types of play used in the foundation stage 3. To establish why play is important for children’s development. 4. To use primary research to explore parents’ beliefs and attitudes regarding play as a way of learning in the foundation stage. 5. To identify whether support children’s development is at the foundation stage by providing play activities at home 1.4 Rationale of the Study This research aims to explore how parents truly regard play and if they do believe that it is beneficial for supporting their children’s development in the foundation stage. This information would be helpful for practitioners so that they know how to engage parents’ cooperation and support in schools. It is believed that parents are important collaborators in their children’s learning since they can provide the resources and experiences to help them learn at home and extend the learning that takes place in school. In partnership with teachers, parents can help enhance the curriculum in ways that engage children’s interest, so it becomes meaningful and fun for them. Play is one way that makes this possible. Parents are seen as partners in their children’s education, so it is worthwhile to study how they view their role as parents of young children who constantly engage in play as a form of enjoyment. According to Nutbrown (1999), first introductions of play for most children are in a ‘home-based pedagogy of play’.