Physical education in Finnish early childhood teacher education–curricula and pre-service teachers’ perceptions



physical education, curriculum, early childhood teacher education, pre-service teacher


Physical education (PE) course curricula in Finnish universities were reviewed and compared, and 274 preservice teachers' perceptions of their PE studies in Finnish early childhood teacher education (ECTE) programmes were investigated using quantitative and qualitative methods. The results of the inductive content analysis revealed both knowledge- and skill-based learning outcomes, with teaching skills receiving the most emphasis. One-way ANOVAs revealed that the preservice teachers were relatively satisfied with their PE studies. They reported being prepared for teaching PE and provided detailed information on the policies regulating early childhood education and care (ECEC). However, they perceived their training with children as insufficient and felt they would have benefited from further training in inclusive PE. Preservice teachers reported inculcating joy of movement as the most important aim of PE teaching in ECEC. These findings suggest that future PE course curricula should place greater emphasis on teaching joy of movement, provide more knowledge on inclusive PE, and include more practical training with children. It is recommended that PE studies in Finnish ECTE should continue to account for at least five ECTS.