The purpose of this research is to analyze the factors that need to be improved to provide the qualityplay environment in early childhood education (ECE). This study is designed to examine thedifferences between the importance and performance of the play environment as perceived by earlychildhood teachers in Korea. For the analysis, the play environment was divided into “environmentgiving comfort,” “environment supporting child-initiated learning,” “environment fostering aestheticsensitivity,” and “environment fostering creativity.” A total of 277 early childhood teacherscompleted the online questionnaire, and the data obtained were analyzed based on mean, standarddeviation, paired-sample t-test, and importance-performance analysis. Results indicate that, first, theimportance of the play environment was statistically significantly higher than performance across allareas. Second, the area where the current situation can be maintained was “environment givingcomfort.” The areas requiring intensive improvement were “environment supporting child-initiatedlearning” and “environment fostering aesthetic sensitivity.” The area requiring gradual improvementwas “environment fostering creativity.” The findings from this study have implication in providingeffective play environments in ECE institutions.
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