Cultural Development of the Child in Role-Play: Drama Pedagogy and Its Potential Contribution to Early Childhood Education

  • Marilyn FleerEmail author
  • Anna Kamaralli
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 18)


Early childhood education theories have generally discouraged adult intervention in children’s role-play, in preference for allowing for the natural development of young children from unstructured play. However, the pedagogy of drama assumes ongoing guidance and involvement from the teacher, who provides students with a brief for carrying out exercises of imaginative play within parameters given by the adult. This chapter argues that there is a place for such adult involvement in general imaginative role-play, in expanding children’s creative resources. Building on the work of Vygotsky, who argued that drama is closely related to play, and later Lindqvist in her development of the concept of playworlds, it is suggested that the active support of teachers in devising scenarios jointly created by the children and the teachers is of great benefit to children’s development. Case studies from both preschool and primary school settings are presented to demonstrate this. Introducing Shakespeare to primary school-age students and introducing various forms of playworlds to preschool children resulted in observably high levels of engagement and creative expansion. A lot can be learned from the drama pedagogue, but there is a need for a mindset change in early childhood education, because early childhood teachers do not traditionally take part in children’s play. We argue that carefully crafted teacher interventions in narrative role-play not only develop children’s play, but culturally develop children.


Early Childhood Education Fairy Tale Early Childhood Teacher Early Childhood Setting Preschool Setting 
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Funds from the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant provided the resources for enabling the second case study led by the first author to be undertaken, including allowing for research assistance from Sue March (field leader), Megan Adams, Carolina Lorentz Beltrão, Hasnat Jahan, Yijun (Selena) Hao and Rowan Fleer-Stout. Thanks to Garry Scale of Clovelly Public School and Serena Petriella of Daceyville Public School for their permission to work with their students.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.The University of Notre Dame AustraliaSydneyAustralia

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