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Children’s Perspectives of Play and Learning for Educational Practice

Children’s Perspectives of Play and Learning for Educational Practice

Title: Children’s Perspectives of Play and Learning for Educational Practice
Author: Theobald, Maryanne
Danby, Susan
Einarsdottir, Johanna   orcid.org/0000-0002-0765-909X
Bourne, Jane
Jones, Desley
Ross, Sharon
Knaggs, Helen
Carter-Jones, Claire
Date: 2015-11-25
Language: English
Scope: 345-362
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Menntavísindasvið (HÍ)
School of education (UI)
Series: Education Sciences;5(4)
ISSN: 2227-7102
DOI: 10.3390/educsci5040345
Subject: Leikur; Leikskólabörn; Kennsluaðferðir; Byrjendakennsla; Eigindlegar rannsóknir
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/631

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Theobald, M.; Danby, S.; Einarsdóttir, J.; Bourne, J.; Jones, D.; Ross, S.; Knaggs, H.; Carter-Jones, C. Children’s Perspectives of Play and Learning for Educational Practice. Educ. Sci. 2015, 5, 345-362. doi:10.3390/educsci5040345


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.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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