The focus of this study is to investigate early childhood students discourses of play-based curriculum. In this paper we focus on how students made implicit and explicit links to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF). Twenty-six early childhood students had volunteered their de-identified play and pedagogy assignments. We analysed their assignments and selected quotes that focused on their role as educators and related to the VEYLDF. We theorized the concept of conceptual reciprocity as students understanding of their role in being sensitive and reciprocal with children and families. Our findings indicated that early childhood pre-service students shared a common language as they transitioned to professional practice. This concept links strongly to students and VEYLDF perspectives of pedagogical educators being effective and affectively relating to children. The study shows how pre-service students understand discourses that are in line with the VEYLDF and the National Quality (NQ) reform agenda where professionals must know how to communicate and interact with other cultures and show responsive engagement with children, families and wider society.