This study investigates Grade R educators’ experience of their professional development,
following an intervention programme. An intervention programme was compiled based on
baseline data. The baseline data indicated that the participants’ prior knowledge of play-based
literacy was very limited. In the baseline data, the participants indicated that they experienced
fears and concerns about the use of a play-based approach for Grade R learners. The
participants were uncertain about how or whether to plan for play-based literacy, as well as
how to identify their learners’ challenges through a play-based approach.
Participatory action research was chosen as a meta-theoretical paradigm for the study.
One of the characteristics of participatory action research is that it is conducted in cycles.
Empirical data were collected over a period of eight weeks through the five cycles of
participatory action research. The data were generated by means of qualitative data collection
methods. These methods included research reflection journals of the participants and the
researcher, collaborative discussions, semi-structured focus group interviews, observation,
open-ended questions and open-ended interviews.
Based on the baseline data collected, and as the study focused on the professional
development of educators, two models were chosen as theoretical frameworks. The first models
used, were CRASP I and CRASP II, focusing on the professional development of educators
through participatory action research. Through participatory action research, educators can do critical self-evaluation about their own knowledge. A critical attitude causes a search for
answers and leads to responsibility and a need for professional development. The purpose of
the CRASP models is to change educators’ attitudes, skills and practices through professional
development so that there can be an improvement in learners’ learning outcomes.
The second model used during the study is the concerns-based model of teacher
development. Education changes regularly, and as educators develop fears and worries about
their own teaching methods, the concerns-based model of teacher development aims to help
educators overcome their fears and concerns about teaching. CRASP I and CRASP II, as well
as the concerns-based model of teacher development, have been combined to contribute to
the professional development of Grade R educators through play-based literacy.
The findings of the study indicate that the participants experienced the intervention
programme as very positive. The findings further indicate that through the intervention
programme, all the participants have gained insight into the learners’ deficits, as well as
insight into their own teaching methods. Nine out of ten of the participants in the study indicated
that their self-confidence in the utilisation of play-based education had improved to such an
extent that following the intervention programme, they understood the value of a spell-based
approach and that they could effectively plan for a play-based approach. The participants further pointed out that they had improved their knowledge to such an extent that they could
better identify and support learners with challenges. The study, the findings and the
recommendations may contribute to the professional development of educators in terms of the
teaching of play-based literacy.