The role of sustained shared thinking, play and metacognition in young children's learning
There has been a considerable resurgence in research on children's play in recent years, which provides clear guidelines as to the nature of provision for play, its purposes and the processes by which it influences children's development and learning (Broadhead et al ., 2010; Moyles, 2010; Whitebread, 2011). Powerful evidence has also emerged within developmental psychology as new research techniques using neuroscientific and other physiological measures have shown strong and consistent relationships between children's level of play and their cognitive and emotional development (Bornstein, 2006; Tamis-LeMonda and Bornstein, 1989). Within the educational arena, play is widely recognized as a leading context for the child's acquisition of communication and collaboration skills and provides an important context for well-being, learning and development. The current Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidance (DfES, 2012) in England uses the role of play as 'an effective characteristic of learning', encouraging adults to use a rich range of experiences and resources through talk, modelling and joint-play activities. The role of the 'adult' within joint activity is of particular interest here. The notion of sustained shared thinking (SST), referring to the sharing of thinking with an adult and to the sustained nature of some of the interactions identified in effective (in terms of child outcomes) preschool settings (Siraj-Blatchford et al ., 2002) is an area of current research development. As decades of research have shown, play begins first with solitary play and the child goes on to develop the capability to share, then to co-operate and finally to collaborate in their play (Siraj-Blatchford, 2008).