Multiple Literacies, Play and Diversity in Early Childhood. Is it Possible?
Leonie Arthur and Criss Jones Diaz, Lecturers, Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Western Sydney.
Over recent years early childhood educators have begun to address emergent and early literacy development in early childhood settings for children from birth to eight years. However understandings of issues related to diversity and difference are infrequently used to inform pedagogy related to young children's developing literacy practices.
This paper will present an overview of emergent literacy and examine the importance of play, in the social construction of young children's literacy. The crucial role of adults as active participants and scaffolders of children's developing understandings of the purposes of literacy will also be analysed.
Critiques of dominant discourses, such as developmentally appropriate practice, and prevailing practices including the reluctance of educators to join in children's play will be presented. The lack of recognition of diversity and difference, along with the tendency of educational settings to focus on only one type of literacy, that which emphasises English-speaking background, middle-class, book-based experiences will be critically analysed. The importance of recognising and planning for diverse literacies, including home languages, in settings for children aged birth to eight will be discussed.