Children’s perspectives of play and learning for educational practice

Theobald, Maryanne, Danby, Susan, Einarsdottir, Johanna, Bourne, Jane, Jones, Desley, Ross, Sharon, Knaggs, Helen, & Carter-Jones, Claire (2015) Children’s perspectives of play and learning for educational practice. Education Sciences, 5, pp. 345-362.

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Play as a learning practice increasingly is under challenge as a valued component of early childhood education. Views held in parallel include confirmation of the place of play in early childhood education and, at the same time, a denigration of the role of play in favor for more teacher-structured and formal activities. As a consequence, pedagogical approaches towards play, the curriculum activities that constitute play, and the appropriateness of play in educational settings, have come under scrutiny in recent years. In this context, this study investigates children’s perspectives of play and how they understand the role of play and learning in their everyday activities. This article reports on an Australian study where teacher-researchers investigated child-led insights into what counts as play in their everyday classroom activities. Children (aged 3–4 years) described play as an activity that involved their active participation in “doing” something, being with peers, and having agency and ownership of ideas. Children did not always characterize their activities as “play”, and not all activities in the preschool program were described as play. The article highlights that play and learning are complex concepts that may be easily dismissed as separate, when rather they are deeply intertwined. The findings of this study generate opportunities for educators and academics to consider what counts as “play” for children, and to prompt further consideration of the role of play as an antidote to adult centric views of play.

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ID Code: 90819
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: early childhood education, play and learning, video-recorded interaction, video-stimulated accounts, video-stimulated interaction, qualitative research, children's perspectives, teacher-reserachers, research with children, ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, preschool
DOI: 10.3390/educsci5040345
ISSN: 2227-7102
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood
  • CHILDRE AND YOUTH RE/Health Wellbeing and Happiness Program
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Copyright Statement: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (
Deposited On: 29 Nov 2015 23:25
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2015 05:09

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