Young children experiencing homelessness: the overlooked medium of play

Young children experiencing homelessness: the overlooked medium of play

The number of mothers with young children experiencing homelessness and seeking shelter has increased in the USA over the past decade. Shelters are often characterized as environments offering few opportunities for appropriate play experiences. This article delineates the important role of play for young children experiencing homelessness and argues for research of the contextual nature of play in shelters. Situated in the social constructivist paradigm, the article draws from the premise that rich stimulating play experiences mediate optimal early learning. A review of literature revealed scant research of children's play in homeless shelters; as a result, the study of a primary medium for learning and ameliorating adversity for children most at risk of negative life outcomes is omitted. Findings from research of play in homeless shelters can inform fields of education, human development, and health and human services, facilitating improved services for families experiencing homelessness.

JOURNAL: Early Child Development and Care
VOLUME: 187
ISSUE: 7
PAGES: 1170-1183
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017
LOCATION: U.S.