Teachers’ Pedagogies in Play: Balancing Teaching and Playing

Yuejiu Wang, PhD candidate, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Email:

Professional Standards for Preschool Teachers (Trial) released by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (MOE) in 2011 encourages teachers to support children’s development in play. This study investigates how Chinese teachers, following the requirement of this policy, guide children’s play with educational purposes.  Drawing upon the cultural-historical perspective, this study uses the concept of motive orientation to analyse the dynamic interactions between teachers and children in play and to unpack teachers’ use of play pedagogies. Data was collected in two classrooms from a public preschool. Video observations of four teachers interacting with children (4-5 years) during play were analysed. It is argued that joining in children’s imaginary play creates possibilities for teachers to motivate children’s learning. This could inspire teachers to create an imaginary situation to help guide children’s learning and development in play.

Cultural-historical theory; play; pedagogy; motive orientation; preschool teachers.

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