Perceptions and practices of early years teachers about how associative play supports the cognitive development of children (3-4 years)

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


During the early years of human development, love, care, attention and education are basic needs (Layzer & Goodson, 2006). This early education of young children also includes the role of play as a vital component of their learning. The curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Development (2007) also stresses upon the importance of play as part of the daily curricula and in co-curricular activities. It is also observed that this process of learning is more effective when children perform associatively. However in the early years play can be used in various forms in order to facilitate the learning of different concepts. Therefore, it is important to recognize the significance of associative play in early years education and development. This study has explored early childhood teachers' perceptions and practices about associative play to support young children's cognitive development. For this purpose the study was carried out with 3-4 years children in a private school of Karachi. Further, the study also looked at the early years teachers role on promoting associative play as a part of teaching learning process. The study also highlights the role and responsibilities of teachers on how to integrate associative play in their daily lessons plans. To carry out the study, qualitative exploratory method was applied which included in-depth observations of teachers practicing associative play in their own classrooms. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted to further explore teachers' perceptions about associative play and its integration in curricular and co-curricular activities. The findings suggest that playing with peers enabled children learn more effectively and contributed to the different domains of cognitive development including enhancing their language skills, their imagination and their problem solving ability. Moreover, both the participants highlighted upon the role of ECD teachers in integrating associative play in their teaching pedagogies that could lead towards the efficacy in student learning outcomes. The study recommended that it is important to plan such activities in which associative play can caters the cognitive needs of early years children (3-4 years). Thus this study suggests that novice teachers should be trained well in order to integrate the process of play and teaching more efficiently.

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