The implimentation of 'learning through play' among a group of Hong Kong kindergarten teachers

Pui Wah Doris CHENG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Play is the characteristic behaviour of children aged between two to six. It is one useful way in which children can acquire developmental skills. According to theorists such as Sylva, Bruner and Genova (1976) and Gravey (1977), play had intellectual benefits. They believed that play experience was the optimal way of enhancing children's creativity and imagination. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 1988) states that a high quality early childhood programme provides a safe and nurturing environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children and 'play' is no doubt an essential component of the developmentally appropriate practice. Following the world's trend, 'Learning through play' was first introduced to the pri-primary education of Hong Kong through the Visiting panel of Llewellyn in 1982. Then the Government endorsed their view by adopting the suggested pedagogy as the recommended method of teaching and learning in the local kindergarten in ECR2 (1986). The Government believed that by including the theory of 'learning through play' in the teaching education programme, the curriculum as well as the undesirable pedagogical strategies which had been identified (ECR2 1986) would then change amongst local kindergarten teachers. Has the problem released in ECR2(1986) been diminished after a decade? Is there any instructional paradigm shift witnessed in the early childhood education? A multi-case study was designed to collect qualitative data on the lived experience of the practices of the practitioners in 1996. A group of six in-service kindergarten teachers who were having their one- year Teacher Education Course (95-96) for kindergarten teachers of the Hong Kong Institute of Education were involved in the study. The three levels of reflection proposed by Schon (1987); namely, reflection-for-action, reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action were used as means to collect holistic data of the practitioners' thought and action. The findings showed that there was a great gap existed between the ideal pedagogical intentions and the real practices of the informants. 'Learning through play' which was the recommended pedagogical curriculum in the Education course of the Institution of Education was found to be the informants' espoused theory. While in practice, they exhibited a different approach in teaching. The practices of the informants were teacher-centered and mostly didactic. Personal interpretation of 'learning through play' could not permeate throughout the informants' pedagogues. The results not only provided knowledge for the understanding of the student teachers' process of learning to teach but also brought forward reflection of the teacher educators. It demonstrated clearly that learning to teach was surely not a direct application of theory into practice. The study revealed that there were a number of other factors influencing the informants translation of theory into practices.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997


Chan-Cheng, P. W. D. (1997, November). The implimentation of 'learning through play' among a group of Hong Kong kindergarten teachers. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 14th Annual Conference: Compulsory Education and Beyond, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.


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