Kindergarten ethnography


During the time when Liam was in Kindergarten, I got a grad school assignment to observe language use in children. I took the opportunity to go to Liam’s school and notice his language use there, as well as notice it at home while playing with his brother.

First, I observed Liam with some male peers in his class. Liam was playing with some Legos. Liam seemed content to play by himself, even though the other boys played together. One boy in particular called to him, to have him notice what he was playing with. “Liam, look at this!”

“Liam, look.”

Unfortunately, Liam never looked and the peer eventually “gave up” trying to get his attention.

Then, we had Liam move to play with a group of girls. It was neat to see how these girls used language. They kept drawing Liam into their conversation. One girl even said, looking into the camera and smiling, “Liam, let’s play your house.” She held up a blue box. Liam replied, “My house is not blue.” End of game.

At home, I observed Liam playing with his brother. They struggled to “interact” or take turns playing. Kieran would initiate. Liam would react. End of circle. Kieran would re-initiate, Liam would not respond. End of circle. Liam was definitely more comfortable playing on his own.

Then, Kieran asked Liam if he wanted to play Mario and Luigi. Liam agreed. It was pretend play, of sorts. They interacted, acting out the video game. While it certainly wasn’t “typical”creative play, such as that suggested by the girls in Liam’s class, having that “script” to follow and expand upon gave Liam a way “into” this game.

It was very interesting to see how Liam engaged with each of these different types of children. I am always grateful that Kieran used language differently than Liam, so he could model and push Liam to use his language in novel ways.

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