Play meets early childhood teacher education

  • Felicity McArdleEmail author
  • Susan Grieshaber
  • Jennifer Sumsion


Recent policy changes connect play in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings explicitly to learning, and to later school-learning outcomes, calling on early childhood (EC) educators to incorporate intentional teaching into their practice. Given these recent policy changes, the purpose of this propositional article is to raise awareness and promote discussion about the current place of play in initial early childhood teacher education programs in Australian universities and the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The article initiates dialogue by contributing a rhizomatically-informed analytical snapshot of publicly available information from course outlines and subject guides in EC initial teacher education (ITE) in 20 Australian universities and the VET sector. This rhizomatically-informed analytical snapshot showed that the word ‘play’ was absent or occurred at relatively low frequency in course and subject descriptive material. The least frequent occurrence was in materials from ITE degree-level courses. While the snapshot does not delve into the full course and subject content (and makes no claims to do so), the rhizomatic methodological approach used leads us to ask whether ‘play’ is being overlooked in the delivery of ITE and VET courses for ECE. Recent quality ratings of ECEC services in Australia support the idea that for beginning and experienced educators, the knowledge base may be less robust than assumed when it comes to combining intentional teaching with play-based learning and the achievement of child outcomes. At the very least, we propose that this warrants further investigation.


Play-based learning Intentional teaching Early childhood education Teacher education Education policy Discourse 



This paper is an outcome from a project funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), Discovery Project DP130103777: Education meets play: A sociological study of how the new compulsory national learning framework for children 0-5 influences educators’ practice.


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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationQUTKelvin GroveAustralia
  2. 2.School of Education, College of Arts, Social Sciences & CommerceLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia
  3. 3.School of EducationCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia

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