“Cautionary tales on interrupting children’s play: a study from Sweden”.

Weldemariam, K.
Childhood Education, 90(4), 265-271.


The purpose of this study is to describe adult involvement in children’s play at a Swedish preschool.


Other research shows that the role of adults is very important for children’s play, for example by adults establishing the framework and helping children with play which the children do not initiate themselves. The analysis of selected play episodes at the preschool in the study shows how the adults at this institution do not always support the children’s play, but sometimes disrupt the children’s play already in progress when they interrupt or correct the children. Even though the adults may not intend to do so, they disturb not just the game, but also the children’s own thought processes and meaning-making. The author points out that, although adults cannot avoid interrupting children’s own play activities in a preschool context, they should be careful to minimise the negative consequences the interruption may have for the children.


The article is based on a small ethnographic study. The primary method was observation. Three-days’ observations were completed of different episodes in play at a Swedish preschool. The observations were primarily in periods with free play and not in connection with activities organised by the preschool teachers. The episodes were recorded on video and analysed with focus on the ways in which adults involve themselves in the children’s play. The study also incorporated relevant literature about children and play.


Weldemariam, K. (2014). “Cautionary tales on interrupting children’s play: a study from Sweden”. Childhood Education, 90(4), 265-271.

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