Theses Master's

To Save Play, We Must Precisely Define It: An Explanatory Rubric for Play in Early Childhood

Wright, Charlotte

This paper describes how an Explanatory Rubric for Play in Early Childhood (ERPEC) was designed to address the elusive nature of play definitions in the early childhood field. The ERPEC describes a three-tiered taxonomic structure – Play Categories, Play Domains, and Social Interaction Distinctions of Play – which provides the language necessary for play experiences in early childhood to be precisely named and defined, while still honoring important nuances in how play may materialize. Literature was reviewed and existing play definitions, categories and types were synthesized and organized to create the ERPEC. With the uniform language structure that the ERPEC provides, the early childhood field will be able to make more reliable connections between characteristics of certain play experiences and specific learning and development outcomes. Play in early childhood can be more effectively practiced and advocated for when these connections are made. As education systems around the world are increasingly bolstering their early childhood programs, while also simultaneously focusing on building systems of accountability which favor teacher-directed learning, we are at critical juncture in defending a child’s right to play. To defend play, we must know what we are defending – the ERPEC offers the language needed to do this.


  • thumnail for CharlotteWright_ToSavePlayWeMustPreciselyDefineIt.pdf CharlotteWright_ToSavePlayWeMustPreciselyDefineIt.pdf application/pdf 625 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
International and Comparative Education
Thesis Advisors
Salmon-Letelier, Marlana Elizabeth
M.Ed., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
April 28, 2021


Keywords: schoolification; play definitions; play scales; play types; play categories