Changing the framing of play in times of increased emphasis on readiness

Tomas Ellegaard*, Niels Kryger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Historically Danish preschool has emphasised play and downplayed curricular planning. Over the last 20 years, there has been heightened emphasis on learning and goal orientation. This article explores the consequential framing of play as result of that shift. This is done first by discussing the changes in policy and discourse in Denmark in particular the introduction of a preschool curriculum in 2004 and the accompanying heightened emphasis on ‘learning’. Second, by comparing ethnographic studies from 2000 with a recently completed research project ‘Appropriate readiness’. This project focused on children aged 5 years old in preschool and how their parents and pedagogues viewed readiness and how they acted to make children ready for school. This ethnographic study identifies increased emphasis on preparation, but a continued focus on ‘the social’ child. The historical change in the position of play in preschool is analysed with Bernstein's concepts of pedagogic framing, classification alongside visible and invisible pedagogy. In the closing section, we discuss the latest 2018 Danish preschool curriculum revision and consider to what extent this points to a return to a play-based practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)218-231
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2020


  • Readiness
  • Free play
  • Play
  • Curriculum
  • The social
  • Frame
  • Denmark
  • Bernstein

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