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The effects of in-service training on teachers’ beliefs and practices in children’s play

Early childhood educators are often aware of the general importance of play in children’s development; however, they are often less aware of how play can support both academic and social learning and what their own roles can be in children’s play. In this study, we examined the effect that professional development training about play would have on early childhood teachers’ beliefs about and practices in supporting play. Educators’ beliefs did not change after training: they generally believed that play was relevant to both social and cognitive skill development and that play had many benefits both before and after their training. After training, teachers were more engaged with children during play and these roles were related to children’s cognitive and social play categories. In a time of increasing academization of the early childhood years, these findings highlight the importance of providing professional development opportunities about play to early childhood professionals in order to remind and inform them of the important role that play can have in the early childhood curriculum.