This indispensible guide uses a unique glossary format to explore some of the key themes in play in early childhood, many of which regularly arise for students, tutors, parents and practitioners. As well as covering key concepts, theories and influential figures in the field, the book considers important aspects of each construct and highlights the complexity of play in early childhood. Each section of the book: Outlines key aspects of a construct in relation to play Includes a wide range of references Summarizes research from an international perspective Offers insights from other well known figures with expertise in playThis book takes the stance that play is vital to children's holistic development, self-efficacy and well-being and that play, and playful learning and teaching, is the essential ingredient in order for children to develop enthusiastic dispositions to learning. This positive view of play draws on the author's extensive experience and observations of children playing in preschool settings, early years classrooms, out in the park and in different home situations. This essential reference book is vital reading for all those working and playing with young children and students on early childhood courses.