Topic outline

  • It's playtime: The child's right to play and the implementation of play-based pedagogy

    In the next video, we focus on one of the fundamental elements of ECEC pedagogy: play. We illustrate why play is important and valuable for the child and for society. High-quality early education has plenty of time for play every day.

    In the video:

    • How to be a human?
    • Play is not just play
    • Learning by playing
    • The importance of peer relationships
    • Pedagogy is needed to support play
    • The diverse and pedagogically planned use of learning environments helps children to focus on play


    In addition to being a producer of overall wellbeing and enjoyment, play enables learning. Play gives children the chance to be spontaneous, giving them choices as well as space. Children’s free and imaginative play is something adults don’t have access to. It is owned by children. This is why Finnish early education sees the child’s right to play as irreplaceable. Looking from a pedagogical perspective, play offers a stage for various intrinsic learning experiences and opportunities to practise new skills. Play allows children to use their creativity and develop their imagination. When learning to play both by themselves and with others, children get to practise physical movement, learn balance and test their own limits. In daily life at the ECEC centre, rules and agreements negotiated together, clear expectations concerning behaviour and, for instance, making use of transitions for pedagogical purposes support children’s consistent and goal-oriented action. Play has an intrinsic value in early education, which is reflected also in the level of national evaluation. .

    Play is a child's right. It's important for a child's physical, social, and mental development, but it is also related to broader societal goals. With play, we also learn the principals of living together sustainably. All children have the right to be heard, seen, noticed, and understood as themselves and as members of their community. ECEC often offers the first large peer community where the child engages in different interactions with several peers. Learning environments in Finnish early education are diverse and promote learning. Play equipment, toys, learning materials and books should be easily accessible for children, yet stored in proper shelves or cabinets when not in use, so children are not distracted by the stimuli, as they should be protected from visual overload. 

    In the next section  

    Listen to a podcast, with concluding remarks and a view on indicators of quality.