The Irish Neighbourhood Play Research Project included almost 1700 families and 240 communities throughout Ireland. The findings hold clear implications for educational policy and practice. Using surveys, interviews and naturalistic observation, data was secured on how children in modern Ireland aged 0 - 15 are playing. An all-island approach was taken incorporating cities, towns and rural areas across a variety of socio-economic groupings. Interesting findings arose from the data relating to generational differences in levels of freedom, play, exercise, engagement with risk, with nature, with scheduled/timetabled extracurricular activities, with homework, with electronics, with creative activities and with traditional play types and games. Differences in play choices and experiences were also evident across socio-economic groupings, community types, gender lines, age ranges and housing types. This paper presents the data and asks what it means within a framework of educational implication. Most importantly: what can education do to redress these implications? Innovations in pedagogy and policy are required to meet the educational challenges implicit within this data. This ground breaking research on the changing face of childhood points clearly to the need for collaborative, co- participative, democratic, empowering and playful pedagogies and educational policies which support them.


early childhood education, primary school, play, generational changes, educational implications, childhood, teachers, educational policy, new pedagogies

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