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Lillard, A. et al. (2013) The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Pretend play has been claimed to be crucial to children's healthy development. Here we examine evidence for this position versus 2 alternatives: Pretend play is 1 of many routes to positive developments (equifinality), and pretend play is an epiphenomenon of other factors that drive development. Evidence from several domains is considered. For language, narrative, and emotion regulation, the research conducted to date is consistent with all 3 positions but insufficient to draw conclusions. For executive function and social skills, existing research leans against the crucial causal position but is insufficient to differentiate the other 2. For reasoning, equifinality is definitely supported, ruling out a crucially causal position but still leaving open the possibility that pretend play is epiphenomenal. For problem solving, there is no compelling evidence that pretend play helps or is even a correlate. For creativity, intelligence, conservation, and theory of mind, inconsistent correlational results from sound studies and nonreplication with masked experimenters are problematic for a causal position, and some good studies favor an epiphenomenon position in which child, adult, and environment characteristics that go along with play are the true causal agents. We end by considering epiphenomenalism more deeply and discussing implications for preschool settings and further research in this domain. Our take-away message is that existing evidence does not support strong causal claims about the unique importance of pretend play for development and that much more and better research is essential for clarifying its possible role. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
139
Page/s:
1-34
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Pretend play
  • Pro-social behaviour
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-regulation
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Zosh, J. et al. (2018) Accessing the Inaccessible: Redefining Play as a Spectrum (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Defining play has plagued researchers and philosophers for years. From describing play as an inaccessible concept due to its complexity, to providing checklists of features, the field has struggled with how to conceptualize and operationalize “play.” This theoretical piece reviews the literature about both play and learning and suggests that by viewing play as a spectrum – that ranges from free play (no guidance or support) to guided play and games (including purposeful adult support while maintaining playful elements), we better capture the true essence of play and explain its relationship to learning. Insights from the Science of Learning allow us to better understand why play supports learning across social and academic domains. By changing the lens through which we conceptualize play, we account for previous findings in a cohesive way while also proposing new avenues of exploration for the field to study the role of learning through play across age and context.

Date:
January 2018
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
9
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Free play
  • Learning
  • Playful learning
  • Guided-play
  • Literature review
  • Play with other adult
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: