Call for Papers

Special Issue on (Re)positioning Play and Playful Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Guest Editor: Minsun Shin, Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA
Manuscript Due Date: October 30, 2021
Projected publication: January 2022


Play has long been regarded as a common discourse in the field of early childhood education and care (ECEC). There is strong and consistent evidence that play creates a powerful medium for learning as well as development; cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical development (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Elkind, 2007; Hirsch-Pasek et al., 2009). Playfulness, the ‘quintessence’ or the spirit of play, promotes joy, excitement, creativity, and problem-solving skills among young children (Lieberman, 1977; Sicart, 2014; Sutton-Smith, 1997). Play and playfulness combined fundamentally affect human experience and learning (Nørgård et al., 2017; Whitton, 2018).

Recently, play is in danger of disappearing. A child’s right to play is endangered by a heavy focus on accountability and standards-based curricula, resulting in more structured, academically rigorous tasks and direct instruction (Jung & Jin, 2014; Pistorova & Ruslan, 2017). Despite a critical need to learn about play and practice play pedagogy in teacher education programs, preservice teachers tend to learn about the theoretical concept of play and primarily focus on ways to create a playful environment for young children (Loizou, 2017). The industrialization of and the prevalent neoliberalism in higher education favors measurable learning outcomes and assessment-driven environments, limiting play and playful learning among adults in higher education (Canaslan-Akyar & Sevimli-Celik, 2021; Leather et al., 2020; McArdle et al., 2019). Therefore, there is an urgent need for early childhood professionals to learn about and enact play pedagogy, experience playful learning, integrate intentionally designed play-based curriculum to support young children’s learning and development, and ultimately become advocates of play. Thus, this special issue is needed.

This special issue was provoked by a strong desire and urgency to provide a forum for researchers, scholars, and practitioners to reflect on the importance of play among young children, and more importantly, generate insights into ways to improve, promote, and (re)position play and playfulness for young children and educators. Some possible areas for consideration for this special issue include (but are not limited to):

  • Critical examinations of definitions and/or conceptualizations of play and playfulness
  • Scholarly reviews and debates regarding play pedagogy to build a shared understanding of how to promote learning through play
  • Playful learning experiences of preservice teachers and/or early childhood professionals that have important implications for early childhood teacher education
  • New early childhood teacher preparation program models that promote and highlight play and playful learning

This special issue welcomes diverse forms of scholarship, including empirical research, commentaries, and literature reviews related to play and playful learning in ECEC.

Manuscripts must follow current APA Guidelines (7th Edition) and the guidelines outlined in Instructions to Contributors, which also can be found on the PECERA website and available at the APJRECE manuscript management site. Please note on your cover page that your submission is for the special issue on (Re)positioning Play and Playful Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care.

Manuscripts should be submitted through the APJRECE manuscript management site. Questions regarding this special issue should be directed to Minsun Shin at


Key dates:
  • Manuscript Submissions Due: October 30, 2021 (Early submissions are encouraged.)
  • Expected Publication Date: January, 2022



Canaslan-Akyar, B., & Sevimli-Celik, S. (2021). Playfulness of early childhood teachers and their views in supporting playfulness. Education 3-13,

Copple, C., & S. Bredekamp (Eds.). (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. (3rd ed.) Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Elkind, D. (2007). The power of play: Learning what comes naturally. Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Berk, L.E., & Singer. D.G. (2009). A mandate for playful learning in school: Presenting the evidence. New York, NY; Oxford University Press. 

Jung, E., & Jin, B. (2014) Future Professionals’ Perceptions of Play in Early Childhood Classrooms, Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 28(3), 358-376.

Leather, M., Harper, N., & Obee, P. (2020). A Pedagogy of Play: Reasons to be Playful in Postsecondary Education. Journal of Experiential Education. (Online First: September 16, 2020).

Lieberman, N. (1977). Playfulness: Its Relationship to Imagination and Creativity. New York: Academic Press.

Loizou, E. (2017). Towards play pedagogy: supporting teacher play practices with a teacher guide about socio-dramatic and imaginative play, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 25(5), 784-795.

McArdle, F. Grieshaber, S., & Sumsion, J. (2019). Play meets early childhood teacher education. The Australian Educational Researcher, 46, 155–175.

Nørgård, R. T., Toft-Nielsen, C., & Whitton, N. (2017) Playful learning in higher education: developing a signature pedagogy. International Journal of Play, 6(3), 272-282, DOI: 10.1080/21594937.2017.1382997

Pistorova, S., & Ruslan, S. (2017). There is still nothing better than quality play experiences for young children’s learning and development: Building the foundation for inquiry in our educational practices. Early Child Development and Care, 188(5), 495-507.

Sicart, M. (2014). Play matters. The MIT Press.

Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). The ambiguity of play. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Whitton, N. (2018). Playful learning: tools, techniques, and tactics. Research in Learning Technology, 26.

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