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Guns And Role Play


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Hi I'm doing a degree course and would like some opinions on whether there is a place for "gun" role play in the early years setting? :o

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This is a prickly debate one the one hand there is the issue of violence and on the other there is the question of children learning to deal with and understand the world around then in safe imaginary play

 

I must admit I sit on the fence with this issue I always used to be anti-guns but reading a recent article "should gun play be allowed in the classroom?" in the March edition of Early years Educator, it made me think differently

 

I dont feel happy to encourage children to play at killing each other and we dont allow guns in playgroup but some children and dare I stereo type by saying boys need encouraging to develope their imaginations sometimes its interesting to hear the whole of the role play when a gun has been made using lego or any oth construction toy, the children know that guns are bad and wrong and they follow the stories with hospitals and police the gun gets forgoten and the children move on with their new story in the hospital or with the baddy being taken to "jail".

 

Not all children go to bed early before the watershed many young children see horrific scenes on the TV late at night, parents think they are too young to understand, children need to beable to express their worries and fears.

 

All though in the ideal world gun play is not great sometimes its important to think about

" why is this child playing guns?" and

" where is the role play heading?"

 

one of the main roles of working with children is to observe the child and then guide them, so discussions rather than blanket rules such as "no guns" can lead to different out comes.

 

another thought - the more you tell a child "no" the more they want to do something!

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Yes this is a thorny subject as is the whole issue of "superhero" role play and the "weapons" involved. I did some research as part of my degree course, surveying parents as to their views an as to how many allowed their children to access to superhero and action figures and their weapons. I found that while toy guns were not encouraged, the majority of parents in my area saw no harm in action figures and superhero role play, even though weapons an violence were involved :D . After a great deal of reading, I myself have decided that I agree with the research of Penny Holland in that boys in the main (and some girls) need this way into role play. The cartoons and Tv programmes which they base their play on are part of their experience and they need this way of making sense of and dealing with the feelings these programmes engender. If allowed the play does move on. Banning guns only teaches them to lie ( it's not a gun, it's a schoosher!)

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xD Thanks for replying.

Don't you think that someone should make a moral stand though and say guns/weapons hurt people, that's why we don't play with guns??

And what about the child that is continually the victim and always shot? Doesn't want to go back in the setting and is upset every day because of it?

Thanks for letting me know about p.holland. I've only just begun this particular research and it's good to get a new name to look into. Any others. :o

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Yes i do think that we as professionals should take a stand and say that shooting and hurting others is wrong. Allowing the children to work through their role play gives us more opportunity for discussion i feel rather than a "we don't play with guns and thats that". we have to be careful though, as i found out, because some dads may have guns because they are in the forces or some farmers may have and use guns. Its a difficult issue and we have to be non-judgemental and very aware of what we are saying to children and what message we are giving.

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Feel very strongly that gun play needs to be tackled with great care. I think a blanket ban on guns and a 'killing people and shooting people is wrong' approach is not appropriate. (though clearly shooting people is not to be encouraged!!!). Many of the children I work with are forces children and their fathers (and mothers) carry guns and can, on occasion shoot people. We can't be seen to be telling a child that what their mummy or daddy does is wrong. This is even more necessary in the current climates where children may have familiy members directly involved in conflicts, whatever our personal feelings are. Gently redirecting play rather than an angry "you know we don't play guns in here" may be appropriate. How confused must a child feel to be told their game is wrong, when they see soldiers as heroes on the news and that's Daddy's job? Any Comments?

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Whew!

This is one of those subjects that gets more difficult the more you think about it isn't it? And also one of those subjects which many people prefer not to think about too much - it's easier to adopt one position or another and claim it to be the only position of 'common sense'...

 

Mandy2, by the way, welcome to the forum and thanks for your first post. :D

 

(Speaking of which, one of the philosophers suggested that common sense is one of the most fairly distributed attributes in the world, since everyone believes they've got so much of it.)

 

My own feeling is that the way we treat the guns issue is different in and out of the nursery. In the nursery, I think we have a duty to encourage and lead non-violent play - which means toys and equipment would not include weapons, and similarly we should discourage the use of sticks and other equipment as gun substitutes in games - hopefully this is kind of obvious anyway as the more lively children in any nursery don't need much excuse to turn a game into a riot...

 

Also, in terms of restricting the play of a couple of children who want to carry out a shoot-em-up game, we also need to think in terms of the other score or so who may feel quite intimidated by an increasingly rowdy game.

 

And in terms of the subject coming up in conversation we need to trust to children's intelligence and empathy. They can understand the difference between the reality they see on the news and the fantasy violence they see in any cartoon, and they need to have the distinction between 'cops and robbers' style violent play, and the terrrible life shattering consequences of the use of real weapons always brought out explicitly.

 

This is what I believe in the context of a nursery, with us as professionals. Outside the nursery of course is a different matter. Children will always have access to images of violence and toy guns (from friends, sticks in the park or wherever). So as parents or guardians we need to find ways of dealing with that, and I think this is where the education and careful approach above can help. Once a child gets to the age where his peers have toy weapons and he/she (mostly he I have to glumly admit) is desperate to join in, depriving them of the means of doing so is almost always going to result in defeat for the noble principle.

 

But if you believe that they have been taught explicitly to understand the difference between exciting play and real violence, you can allow them into the world they want to share with their friends with an easier mind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

we dont have an official "no guns " policy but when children make guns and start to pretend to kill each other they are told this isnt nice play and to put the pretend guns away

but we have toys such as action man and toy pirates ship and a castle with knights so I couldnt say we are totally consistent.

the main reason that we stop the children playing pretend guns is because they tend to lead to more disruptive play as they run around shooting each other and pretending to fall down dead, the play can quickly snow ball to half the children in the playgroup running around the hall shouting bang bang

the small world toys dont create such chaos the children are not pretending to kill each other and it keeps the whole senario of guns and violence as fantasy rather than role play.

I dont know if this is any better for the child.......? but it is less disruptive to the session ! <_<

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  • 7 months later...

Hi -

As this topic has been dormant for some time and a newer one has sprung up, I'm closing this topic to new posts, and providing a cross reference to the newer one, which you can find here.

 

Steve :)

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