Understanding what and how young children learn through their play is central to the enactment of the dominant, play-based early childhood education and care. This paper presents data from a case study of 28 young children's perspectives on learning through play. Application of a cultural-historical analysis method showed how these perspectives may be understood according to Vygotsky's writing on learning through play. This paper suggests “the aim of the game” is a useful way to understand young children's perspectives on their learning through play. The resultant understanding may facilitate educators' observation of and engagement with free play to maximise learning, without disrupting their autonomy – an indispensable feature of play for young children.
- young children's perspectives
- learning through play
- pedagogical observation
- guided play
- cultural-historical theory