A Reading University study of about 180 nursery and Reception teachers in two authorities found that they take pains to work together with the children to set up role-play areas.
Their aim is to create a space where topic- or curriculum-led scenarios are acted out. But the teachers leave the children alone to play and, after a few minutes of staying on-task, this usually reverts to games of superheroes or mums and dads. Teachers only intervene to discipline disruptive pupils.
Researcher Sue Rogers says teachers often don't know when and how to intervene skilfully and sensitively to help children derive the full potential from the role-play opportunities in class, which can enhance learning. With practical strategies, she says, they would be in a better position to manage role play more effectively.
She also asks whether elaborate props and themes are needed to stimulate role play, or if giving pupils an empty space for their games would stimulate them more.
Call Sue Rogers, Rolle School of Education, Plymouth University, Douglas Avenue, Exmouth, Devon. Tel: 01752 600600