Children's perceptions of their play and learning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Children are the protagonists of early curriculum, and they are regarded as competent informants in education. Many scholars claimed that children’s perspectives should be taken into consideration in the discussion about curriculum issues. Therefore, this study attempts to obtain children’s perceptions and understandings of play and learning and to explore implications of the children’s perspectives of play and learning for curricular policy. Hong Kong children (N=24) aged 3 to 6 years from two kindergartens were observed and videotaped upon parents’ consents, and video-cued recall interviews were conducted after children have experienced play and learning activities. Findings indicated that academic learning activities, e.g., writing, reading, and English lessons, are what children recalled most. They think that they have learned something from those activities rather than play. Most of the children think that they did not learn anything while they play. They understand play as “just play” which are child-initiated and is not associated with learning. Play and learning are two separate concepts in children’s perspectives. Furthermore, children’s memories of learning activities reflected the real classroom contexts. Although limited time was allocated to play, some children recalled that they had played. Some children recalled it even they did not play at all. Children’s dichotomous understandings of play and learning raises the question of how to incorporate children’s perspective in the implementation of the advocated play-based learning approach in Hong Kong curriculum policy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


Wu, S.-c. (2015, June). Children's perceptions of their play and learning. Paper presented at the 2015 Quality Childhood Conference International (QCCI) Enhancing Quality Childhood Education: Synergizing Global Efforts, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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