40pc of Irish teachers fear effects of restrictions on play-based lessons

24 Aug 2020

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With children set to return to school amid the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers in Ireland fear its impact on play and play-based lessons.

A survey conducted by researchers at Dublin City University (DCU) has found that 40pc of Irish teachers are concerned about how play and play-based lessons will be impacted by measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in schools.

More than 300 primary school teachers who are currently teaching or have previously taught in early childhood classrooms took part in the survey, which aimed to identify teachers’ attitudes to play throughout the initial school closures, attitudes to play more generally in education and intentions to incorporate play in their teaching during return to schooling.

Other findings showed 82pc of respondents recommended play strategies to parents during remote teaching and home schooling while 87pc said play would have a significant role in how they would support children once schools reopen.

Furthermore, 99pc of teachers said they intend to use play as a pedagogical strategy once schools reopen, but 40pc were concerned about capacity in school to ensure playtime was facilitated.

 ‘Teachers voiced clear concerns’

“I’m worried that we won’t be allowed to play with current restrictions and I don’t have the time to be washing all the toys daily,” said one junior-infant and senior-infant teacher who took part in the survey. “I’m worried I can’t facilitate play as I have in the past because of restrictions.”

The research was led by Dr Sinéad McNally, assistant professor in the psychology of early childhood and Christina O’Keeffe. Speaking of the findings, McNally welcomed the fact that almost all teachers plan to implement play in their teaching when schools reopen.

“However, teachers voiced clear concerns about capacity for implementing play-based teaching strategies in light of restrictions,” she said.

“As schools reopen and the educational landscape changes during the pandemic, it is important that supporting children’s play is a central part of discussions around delivery of early childhood education in the pandemic.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic