I was standing and putting my clothes on while a gym mate of mine asked me, “AJ (my nickname), I can’t seem to understand the difference between F/NG questions!” Yes, they can be unbelievably confusing, so I made it an oath to quickly find the IELTS book 14 online and to write out one of the paragraphs or passages so that we can practice and identify how to find the correct answers…as well as the differentiation between the both.
Remember that your answer should be based only on the information in the text, not on what you already know.
Now thanks to the university’s new Center for Research on Plan in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL), Whitebread, Baker, Gibson and a team of researchers hope to provide evidence on the role played by play in how a child develops.
‘A strong possibility is that play supports the early development of children’s self-control,’ explains Baker. ‘This is our ability to develop awareness of our own thinking processes – it influences how effectively we go about undertaking challenging activities.’
In a study carried out by Baker with toddlers and young preschoolers, she found that children with greater self-control solved problems more quickly when exploring an unfamiliar set-up requiring scientific reasoning. ‘This sort of evidence makes us think that giving children the chance to play will make them more successful problem-solvers in the long run.’
If playful experiences do facilitate this aspect of development, say the researchers, it could be extremely significant for educational practices, because the ability to self-regulate has been shown to be a key predictor of academic performance.
Gibson adds: “Playful behavior is also an important indicator of healthy social and emotional development. In my previous research, I investigated how observing children at play can give us important clues about their well-being and can even be useful in the diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.”
Whitebread’s recent research has involved developing a play-based approach to supporting children’s writing. ‘Many primary school children find writing difficult, but we showed up in a previous study that a playful stimulus was far more effective than an instructional one.’ CHildren wrote longer and better-structured stories when they first played with dolls representing characters in the story. In the latest study, children first created their story with Lego*, with similar results. ‘Many teachers commented that they had always previously had children saying they didn’t know what to write about. With the Lego building, however, not a single child said this through the whole year of the project.’
Whitebread, who directs PEDAL, trained as a primary school teacher in the early 1970s’, when, as he describes, ‘the teaching of young children was largely a quiet backwater, untroubled by any serious intellectual debate or controversy.’ Now, the landscape is very different, with hotly debated topics such as school starting age.
‘Somehow the importance of play has been lost in recent decades. It’s regarded as something trivial, or even as something negative that contrasts with “work”. Let’s not lose sight of its benefits, and the fundamental contributions it makes to human achievements in the arts, sciences and technology. Let’s make sure children have a rich diet of play experiences.’IELTS Cambridge 14