Play meets early childhood teacher education

Felicity McArdle, Susan Grieshaber, Jennifer Sumsion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-175
Number of pages21
JournalThe Australian Educational Researcher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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

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