Early Childhood Education (ECE) typically positions the child at the centre of their own learning, with a high degree of child-initiated and child-led experiences. As such, ECE is often characterised by 'free play' during which children are provided with opportunities to manage and negotiate their socio-emotional interactions. This process of self-regulation is carefully moulded by a complex preschool pedagogic culture. Drawing on data from two projects that investigated children's social and creative play through exploratory qualitative observations, interviews and child-centred play-based methodologies, this article describes how children interpret cues in formal ECE settings to determine how they manage and regulate their play experiences and socio-emotional interactions. Findings demonstrate that children interpreted four elements of the pedagogic culture: Child-Centred Pedagogies, Structural Hierarchies, Rules and Regulations; and Agency and Power. Children manoeuvred these elements of the pedagogic culture to shape their negotiation tactics and socio-emotional selfregulation.
- pedagogic culture
- child centered play