Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Play-Psychological aspects, School children-Psychology, School recess breaks-Psychological aspects, Self-perception in children, Winnicott, D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971, Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984, Theoretical, Play, School, Self


The objective of this theoretical study was to examine how the decrease of play in early childhood education is affecting the developmental process of the child. Noted implications for the lack of play in schools included a decrease in creative thinking and imagination in childhood, an increase in ADHD and depression in children, an increase in preschool expulsions, an increase in special education services, and disparities in access to play for children of color and children living in poverty. A theoretical framework was used to examine the intersection between play, the school environment, and the developing child. The analysis utilized Donald W. Winnicott's theory of object relations and Michel Foucault's theory of disciplinary power to address four central questions regarding this phenomenon: 1) How does the lack of play in school affect the child's sense of self? 2) What environmental factors maintain the decrease of play in early childhood education and how do these factors affect the child? 3) Who is most effected by this phenomenon and why? 4) How can we begin to think of education in a different way in order to value academic learning while remaining sensitive to the child's growing sense of self? Implications for clinical social workers were explored. Finally, this thesis suggests that if we are to create spaces in this world for children to become fully alive, then we must find a way to mitigate our demands for who they should be so that we can allow them to become who they are




iii, 70 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 64-69)

Limited Access until August 2020