time to play project

The aim of the Time to Play project was to improve the integration of young children of ethnic minority (particularly Muslim) families, into the services offered by Children’s Centres. The project developed culturally appropriate approaches for mother and child sessions, based on creative play as a foundation for learning. These approaches fostered communication, self-esteem, language and creativity, and built on successful practice evolved through Peep. Through participatory action research, the project arrived at recommendations for intercultural practice and materials that respect the mothers’ values and parenting styles, and support their children’s development in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The Time to Play project was participatory in its approach. It involved parents in the design of what ‘works’ for them, as being culturally relevant and in tune with their aspirations, and in recognition of what they already do at home. It extended the Peep group provision by focusing on creative play for early learning within ethnic minority communities. These groups were based in Children’s Centres in Oxford, Bristol, Southampton and Birmingham, with a high proportion of Muslim families and different ethnic backgrounds in each city. The project ran in three progressive phases: Consultation/information gathering; Development and delivery of approaches; Dissemination/sharing of what we learned. The work in this project also led to the production of a CD: Singing Together in Urdu and Punjabi.

Implications for future practice and ways of working, along with practical approaches and ideas, emerged during the project. You can read more about them in the:

summary of the Time to Play action research project 

paper presented at the MERYC conference (Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children) by Dr Susan Young and Alison Street.

Time to Play was managed from the Peeple Centre in Oxford, and the approaches were researched in partnership with Dr Susan Young from the University of Exeter, who has extensive experience of similar projects.

Watch Nuzhat's presentation on the importance of Punjabi families valuing their home language and culture. (Part of a seminar at the Punjabi Mela in Sahiwal, Pakistan in April 2014; in Punjabi with English subtitles; 7 minutes.)

‘Can parents open up their hearts with their children in any other language? …’ – an extract

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‘Can parents open up their hearts with their children in any other language? Can they develop strong bonds with their children by discarding their home language? Can children express themselves easily to their mothers? And why do many children need to go to speech therapists?

Research shows that a child can hear parents’ voices even before birth. A child’s early years are extremely precious to their future growth in life, and their mother tongue plays a vital role in this. Children with a strong command of their home language can easily learn other languages.

Parents can help their children to know and understand the world by talking, listening, sharing stories and songs, and playing games in their own language. With the support of Peeple I have worked with parents on folk stories and lullabies, and shared that work with Punjabi mothers and children. I’m happy to say that the children and mothers who listened to these lullabies and stories together developed better communication and bonding among themselves and with the Punjabi language.’