This paper aims at investigating the changing constructions of childhood in two Finnish pre-school education curricula during the time of pre-school reform in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These constructions are part of the underlying curriculum containing postulates and values that influence the written curriculum documents. They determine the positions of children and educators and help define the purposes of education. Discourse analysis was used to identify the constructions of childhood in the curriculum documents from 1996 and 2000. The results indicate a paradigm change in a relatively short period of time. The agreed-upon notion of an innocent, capable, and self-contained child transformed into a multifaceted view of the child in relation to the educator and to the outside world. The changing constructions of childhood had an impact on how the functions of pre-school education were seen and how educators and children were positioned. Tracking changes in the early years curricula is important, because these shifts both reflect and construct how education is viewed and enable discussion about the desired future of early years education. The authors argue that it is important that traditional curriculum styles evident in compulsory education not be allowed to be recontextualised in early years education.