When the Teacher Comes to Play: Influencing Children's Role-Playing as a Social Practice in Kindergarten


  • Mark Weißhaupt Pädagogische Hochschule FHNW
  • Elke Hildebrandt
  • Tobias Leonhard Pädagogische Hochschule FHNW




play accompaniment, social performance, interactionism, interaction system, socialization, sociology of childhood, preschool pedagogy, objective hermeneutics


In this article, we address the social practice of children's role-playing in the context of the (German-Swiss) kindergarten, using qualitative reconstructive methodology. Role playing is a common form of interaction among children. When done in kindergarten or school, role-playing is often facilitated by teachers, with the goal of promoting different skills, i.e., social or language skills. We present the state of research on role-playing of young children, focusing on its internal logic and its relation to pedagogical guidance. On the basis of a transcript of a play sequence in kindergarten, interactions between children as well as the teachers' actions, are reconstructed, using an objective hermeneutics approach. This led to two central findings: Children's role-playing shows a structural logic of loosely coupled connections of actions and communications. Its dynamics are inherently determined and delimited from its surroundings, either by play-thematically appropriate reinterpretations of the various actions and communication external to the play reality, including guidance by the teacher, or by actively ignoring all of these and treating them as background noise. For this performative delineation, dramatic elements are used by children; for example, screenwriter or choir. The role of the teacher can be problematic for the fragile involvement of children in role-playing, especially if the teacher lacks understanding of the play reality at hand.


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Author Biographies

Mark Weißhaupt, Pädagogische Hochschule FHNW

Mark WEISSHAUPT ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in der Professur für Unterrichts- und Schulkulturen an der Pädagogischen Hochschule FHNW und Verantwortlicher der Lernwerkstatt SPIEL. Seine Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind Spiel in Gesellschaft und Bildung, Interaktion und Identitätswandel in Spiellernprozessen sowie Rollen- und Generationenforschung.

Elke Hildebrandt

Pädagogische Hochschule FHNW

Tobias Leonhard, Pädagogische Hochschule FHNW

Tobias LEONHARD leitet die Professur für Berufspraktische Studien und Professionalisierung am Institut Kindergarten-/Unterstufe der Pädagogischen Hochschule FHNW. Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind qualitativ-rekonstruktive Methoden, berufspraktische Studien sowie die Professionalisierungsforschung.



How to Cite

Weißhaupt, M., Hildebrandt, E., & Leonhard, T. (2019). When the Teacher Comes to Play: Influencing Children’s Role-Playing as a Social Practice in Kindergarten. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.2.3055