children playing

Children's representations of cultural scripts in play: Facilitating transition from home to preschool in an intercultural early learning program for refugee children

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Kirova, A.
Publication Date: 
31 Dec 2009


This article focuses on the role of play as a cultural activity in refugee children's transition from home to preschool. The “culture-free” view of play as a means for development of a “universal” child was challenged and an alternative view presented of play as a culturally leading activity in the development of a culturally situated child based on the work of Vygotsky and Leont'ev. That view framed a community-initiated project that aimed at providing learning opportunities in both children's home languages (first language [L1]) and English (second language), so a smooth transition from home to school cultures is provided for the children. The program was unique in that 4 languages were spoken in the classroom (i.e., Kurdish, Somali, Sudanese Arabic, and English) by both the children and the L1 facilitators chosen by their respective ethnocultural communities. The pilot study that used the Participatory Action and Learning methodology demonstrated that the intercultural approach to education could open possibilities for new directions in early childhood practice in which a hybrid space is open for children and adults who share it to bring their knowledge and ways of being in the world. In this space, play is a vehicle for preserving cultural group identities while creating a common culture.

-reprinted from Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education