Where did love and care get lost? Educators and parents’ perceptions of early childhood practice

Elizabeth Rouse*, Fay Hadley

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Overarching the Australian Early Childhood Education and Care sector currently are the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards and shape the practice of early childhood educators. Within these documents, the word LOVE is not mentioned as an important characteristic of effective teaching. This paper examines the notion of love in ECEC contexts, drawing on three studies which examined parent and educator perspectives on what is important in ECEC practice. A consistent theme throughout these studies was families discussing the notions of care, love, happiness and friendships as important for their children in ECEC. Families were not as focused on qualifications and/or expertise, but instead valued educators who they felt knew and loved their children. Educators rarely mentioned the words love or happiness, but instead spoke about child development and learning when reflecting on the programme in the ECEC settings. We will argue in this article the language of learning in ECEC, which is being influenced by the neoliberalist discourse in education, restricts educators engaging in other discourses about practice which include care and love.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)159-172
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


    • early childhood education
    • love and care
    • parent expectations
    • parent partnerships
    • teacher practice


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