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Federal grant to research how kids interact in playgroup environments

Playgroups have often been a lifeline for parents and carers, providing social interaction not just for children but carers too. However, a national curriculum and research into the field has been slow coming. Whilst we now have a national curriculum, research into their benefits has lagged. Professor Edwards is going to change that.

Edwards brings a depth of understanding to early learning education, having worked as an early learning teacher prior to returning to university for further study and a PhD in early learning curriculum. Now professor of education at the Learning Sciences Institute of Australia (LSIA) at the Australian Catholic University, she recently received a grant from the Australian Research Council (Linkage Project) to study the importance of play in learning within a playgroup environment.

Linkage grants are designed to promote the forming of partnerships between universities and industry or community organisations. In this instance, LSIA has formed a partnership with Playgroup Victoria, who have also provided additional funding for the research project.

The research will focus on playgroups in schools, a relatively new concept that’s expanded rapidly with over 400 in Victoria. Whilst the research will initially focus on Victoria, Edwards hopes to expand it nationally.

The research has a broad remit, looking at play in the 21st century, as well as the rise of digital technologies and the increased emphasis on formal learning at an ever younger age. Edwards says that play is a child’s way of processing meaning. They explore ideas, manipulate materials, and engage with other people, digital technologies and media. Play is the opportunity to engage in conversation and make inferences.

Readers are interested in learning more can visit the LSIA website. Listen to Edwards chat with ELR about this research in this interview:

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