The importance of play in early childhood education: A critical perspective on current policies and practices in Germany and Hong Kong


  • Stefan Faas University of Education Schwabisch Gemund, Germany
  • Shu-chen Wu Education University of Hong Kong
  • Steffen Geiger University of Education Schwabisch Gemund, Germany


Early childhood education, importance of play, international reform movement, cultural comparison


In order to reflect international reform movements in a system- and culture-comparative perspective, the following article investigates the early childhood education systems in Germany and in Hong Kong, with reference to the respective social and educational roots, pedagogical development lines and basic educational approaches. In addition, current developments, policies, and practices are described. The basic structural requirements of the respective systems will be presented, and the different reviews and implementation of international developments in Germany and Hong Kong will be explained. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of play in early childhood education. In this context, a current qualitative study of the authors is presented, which examined different perspectives on learning at play. The results of this exploratory study show that the interpretations and discussions of international reform approaches in different cultural settings are sometimes very different. The statements of the German and Chinese participants indicate that international developments are assessed primarily in the context of national educational traditions and structures. Against this backdrop, it is assumed that international reform movements despite some assimilations will have different effects in national education systems.