Kindergarten as Nexus of Practice: A Mediated Discourse Analysis of Reading, Writing, Play, and Design in an Early Literacy Apprenticeship
Karen E. Wohlwend,
How does “playing school,” an ordinary childhood pastime, shape children's reading abilities, classroom identities, and relative social positioning? This ethnographic study of kindergarten literacy play situates children's combinations of play, reading, writing, and design within a nexus of practice (Scollon, 2001), the web of seemingly natural combinations of ways of interacting shared by an embodied community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). When literacy and play practices combine, they support and strengthen one another, proliferating ways for children to “do school” and increasing access for diverse learners. For example, playing school produces a reading/playing nexus where (a) reading supports play goals—reading to play—as children read books and charts to make play scenarios more credible or to gain the cooperation of other players and (b) playing supports reading development—playing to read—as pretending to be the teacher and teaching pretend students enables children to share and explore reading strategies.