Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Preschool Teachers’ Conceptualizations and Uses of Play Across Eight Countries

  • Published:
Early Childhood Education Journal Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Increased emphasis on academics has led to play becoming a controversial and topical issue in the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Although play has been extensively researched we still lack consensus on what play is and how play is actually implemented and used in ECEC classrooms. The present cross-cultural study aims at understanding how play is conceptualized and provided across eight different countries. The study investigates whether and how conceptualizations of play affect uses of play; whereas it also examines similarities and differences in conceptualizations and uses across countries. Results have revealed the existence of both universal and non-universal characteristics of play. Despite the existence of universal characteristics, however, variations in the extent to which they were mentioned across countries have been revealed. Differences were identified in terms of how early childhood educators act on their ideas about children’s play within early childhood programs. Various patterns of correlations between definitions and uses have been revealed. Some countries seem to be characterized by an ‘ethos of play,’ both in terms of how play is conceptualized and used, whereas others seem to struggle between offering a more child-initiated, play-based curriculum versus a more teacher-led approaches to instruction.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Ailwood, J. (2003). Governing early childhood education through play. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 4(3), 286–299.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aras, S. (2016). Free play in early childhood education: A phenomenological study. Early Child Development and Care, 186(7), 1173–1184.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Avgitidou, S. (Ed.). (2001). Play. Contemporary research and teaching approaches [Το παιχνίδι. Σύγχρονες ερευνητικές και διδακτικές προσεγγίσεις]. Athens: Typothito-George Dardanos.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coughlan, S. (2007). Generation ofplay deprivation’. Retrieved March 6, 2018, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7007378.stm.

  • Eberle, S. G. (2014). The elements of play. Toward a philosophy and a definition of play. Journal of Play, 6(2), 214–233.

    Google Scholar 

  • EECERA SIG “Rethinking play” position paper (2017). The role of play in early childhood education and care. Retrieved March 3, 2018, from https://www.academia.edu/31079513/THE_ROLE_OF_PLAY_IN_EARLY_CHILDHOOD_EDUCATION_AND_CARE.

  • Elkind, D. (2007). The power of play. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Faas, S., Wu, S. C., & Geiger, S. (2017). The importance of play in early childhood education: A critical perspective on current policies and practices in Germany and Hong Kong. Global Education Review, 4(2), 75–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fesseha, E., & Pyle, A. (2016). Conceptualising play-based learning from kindergarten teachers’ perspectives. International Journal of Early Years Education, 24(3), 361–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fisher, K. R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. B., & Gryfe, S. G. (2008). Conceptual split? Parents’ and experts’ perceptions of play in the 21st century. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(4), 305–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Göncü, A., Mistry, J., & Mosier, C. (2000). Cultural variations in the play toddlers. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24(3), 321–329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Government Gazette 4249. (2017). Πρότυπος κανονισµός λειτουργίας δηµοτικών παιδικών και βρεφονηπιακών σταθµών [Model regulation for the operation of municipal child and infant/child centers]. Athens: Joint Ministerial. Decision 41087 – Government Gazette 4249/B/05.12.2017.

  • Hansen, M., Thomsen, P., & Varming, O. (1999). Psykologisk, pædagogisk ordbog (12th ed.). Copenhagen: Gyldendal.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hewes, J. (2006). Let the children play: Natures answer to early learning. Montreal, Que.: Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/sites/default/files/docs/suggestions/let-the-children-play_jane-hewes.pdf.

  • Huizinga, J. (1955). Homo Ludens. Boston: Beacon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hyder, T. (2004). War, conflict and play. Debating play. London: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • International Play Association (IPA) (2014). Declaration on the importance of play. Retrieved March 3, 2018, from http://ipaworld.org/ipa-declaration-on-the-importance-of-play/.

  • Izumi-Taylor, S., Ito, Y., & Krisell, M. (2016). American and Japanese kindergartners’ views of play through the use of photo elicitation interviews (PEIs). Research in Comparative & International Education, 11(3), 322–333.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Izumi-Taylor, S., Samuelsson, I. P., & Rogers, C. S. (2010). Perspectives of play in three nations: A comparative study in Japan, the United States, and Sweden. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 12(1), 1–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jung, E., & Jin, B. (2015). College coursework on children’s play and future early childhood educators’ intended practices: The mediating influence of perceptions of play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 43(4), 299–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jung, E., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, Y. (2017). Future professionals’ perceptions of play and intended practices: The moderating role of efficacy beliefs. Early Child Development and Care, 187(8), 1335–1348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kindergarten Curriculum. (2011). 1o µέρος. Παιδαγωγικό πλαίσιο και αρχές προγράµµατος σπουδών νηπιαγωγείου [Part 1. Pedagogical framework and principles of the kindergarten curriculum]. Retrieved December 17, 2017, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxM0yUGj01rDZTRjOGVhNTQtY2FiMi00YTE5LThjZWYtMzU3MzQ2YzRhYjZi/view.

  • Koolieelse lasteasutuse riiklik õppekava. (2008) National curriculum for preschool child care institutions. Riigi Teataja I, 23, 152.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kragh-Müller, G. (2013). Pædagogisk kvalitet I daginstitutioner (Educational quality in child care). Copenhagen: Reitzels Forlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kragh-Müller, G. (2017). The key characteristics of Danish/Nordic Child care culture. In C. Ringsmose & G. Kragh-Müller (Eds.) Nordic social pedagogical approach to early years. London: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Loizou, E., & Avgitidou, S. (2014). The Greek–Cypriot early childhood educational reform: Introducing play as a participatory learning process and as children’s right. Early Child Development and Care, 184(12), 1884–1901.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McInnes, K., Howard, J., Miles, G., & Crowley, K. (2011). Differences in practitioners’ understanding of play and how this influences pedagogy and children’s perceptions of play. Early Years, 31(2), 121–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. (2008). Order ECI/3960/2007, December 19, to establish the curriculum and regulate the management of preschool education Report No (Vol. 5, pp. 1016–1036). Madrid: Official Bulletin of the State.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministero dell’Istruzione dell’ Universita e della Ricerca - MIUR (2012). Indicazioni nazionali per il curricolo della scuola dellinfanzia e del primo ciclo distruzione, Retrieved May 15, 2018, from http://www.indicazioninazionali.it/documenti_Indicazioni_nazionali/indicazioni_nazionali_infanzia_primo_ciclo.pdf.

  • Ministry of Education and Culture. (2016). Preschool education curriculum (3–6 years old). Nicosia: Ministry of Education and Culture.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of National Education (MoNE). (2013). Preschool education program. Turkey: Ankara.

    Google Scholar 

  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2017). Starting strong 2017: Key OECD indicators on early childhood education and care. Paris: OECD Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pramling Samuelsson, I., & Marilyn, F. (Eds.). (2008). Play and learning in early childhood settings: International perspectives. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rentzou, K. (2017). Greek early childhood educators’ conceptualization of education, care and educare concepts. Early Years. https://doi.org/10.1080/09575146.2017.1361386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roopnarine, J., Johnson, J. E., & Hooper, F. (1994). Children’s play in diverse cultures. New York: SUNY.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roopnarine, J. L. (2012). What is the state of play? International Journal of Play, 1(3), 228–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rubin, K. H., Fein, G. G., & Vandenberg, B. (1983). Play. In E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 4 (pp. 693–774). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singer, D. G., Singer, J. L., D’Agostino, H., & DeLong, R. (2009). Children’s pastimes and play in sixteen nations. Is free play declining? American Journal of Play, 1(3), 283–312.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tuğrul, B., Metin Aslan, Ö, Ertürk, H. G., & Altınkaynak, S. O. (2014). Anaokuluna Devam Eden Altı Yaşındaki Çocuklar İle Okul Öncesi Öğretmenlerinin Oyun Hakkındaki Görüşlerinin İncelenmesi [Opinions of preschool children and teachers about play]. İnönü Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 15(1), 97–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2013). United Nations convention on the rights of the child. Retrieved March 3, 2018, from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx.

  • Van der Aalsvoort, G., Prakke, B., Howard, J., König, A., & Parkkinen, T. (2015). Trainee teachers’ perspectives on play characteristics and their role in children’s play: An international comparative study amongst trainees in the Netherlands, Wales, Germany and Finland. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23(2), 277–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Varol, F. (2012). What they believe and what they do. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(4), 541–552.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walsh, G. M., McGuinness, C., Sproule, L., & Trew, K. (2010). Implementing a play-based and developmentally appropriate curriculum in Northern Ireland primary schools: What lessons have we learned? Early Years, 30(1), 53–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walsh, G. M., Sproule, L., McGuinness, C., Trew, K., & Ingram, G. (2010). Developmentally appropriate practice and play-based pedagogy in early years education: A literature review of research and practice. Belfast: CCEA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wu, S.-C., & Rao, N. (2011). Chinese and German teachers’ conceptions of play and learning and children’s play behavior. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 19(4), 469–481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Konstantina Rentzou.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rentzou, K., Slutsky, R., Tuul, M. et al. Preschool Teachers’ Conceptualizations and Uses of Play Across Eight Countries. Early Childhood Educ J 47, 1–14 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-018-0910-1

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-018-0910-1

Keywords

Navigation