University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Learning through play is a common phrase in early childhood education worldwide. Play is often put forward as the overarching principle for working with young children (Johnson, Christie, & Wardle, 2005). However, if we go beyond the rhetorical level and explore how “learning through play” and a “play-based curriculum” are understood and transformed into practice, we may find differences both within and between countries (Karlsson Lohmander & Pramling Samuelsson, 2014a, 2014b; Pramling Samuelsson & Fleer, 2009).
In this article we discuss the relationship between the concepts of play and learning and describe how they are enacted in everyday practice in early childhood education in Sweden. Starting with a brief presentation of the development of early childhood education, we then reflect on the challenges preschool teachers may encounter when trying to implement a new learning-oriented curriculum (National Agency for Education, 2011) and still trying to keep play as a central dimension in children’s everyday life in preschool.
Keywords: early childhood education, Sweden, preschool, play, learning