Early Childhood Educators’ Understandings of How Young Children Perform Gender During Unstructured Play

  • Sarah Reddington
Keywords: early childhood, gender, performativity, regulatory norms, challenge


This study explores Nova Scotia early childhood educators’ (ECEs’) understandings of how young children perform gender during unstructured play. This research reveals that ECEs view gender primarily through traditional gender stereotypes and often unknowingly construct heteronormative play spaces that then inform the ways in which children learn gender. However, the ECEs also recognize the requirement to disrupt normative gender processes and challenge children to think and act outside the gender binary. There is a need for early childhood educators to discuss more regularly their gender-inclusive practices and locate new pedagogical approaches to support diverse identity expressions.

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