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Definition

Barnett, W. et al. (2008) Educational effects of the Tools of the Mind curriculum: A randomized trial (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The effectiveness of the Tools of the Mind (Tools) curriculum in improving the education of 3- and 4-year-old children was evaluated by means of a randomized trial. The Tools curriculum, based on the work of Vygotsky, focuses on the development of self-regulation at the same time as teaching literacy and mathematics skills in a way that is socially mediated by peers and teachers and with a focus on play. The control group experienced an established district-created model described as a “balanced literacy curriculum with themes.” Teachers and students were randomly assigned to either treatment or control classrooms. Children (88 Tools and 122 control) were compared on social behavior, language, and literacy growth. The Tools curriculum was found to improve classroom quality and children's executive function as indicated by lower scores on a problem behavior scale. There were indications that Tools also improved children's language development, but these effects were smaller and did not reach conventional levels of statistical significance in multi-level models or after adjustments for multiple comparisons. Our findings indicate that a developmentally appropriate curriculum with a strong emphasis on play can enhance learning and development so as to improve both the social and academic success of young children. Moreover, it is suggested that to the extent child care commonly increases behavior problems this outcome may be reversed through the use of more appropriate curricula that actually enhance self-regulation.

Date:
January 2008
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
23
Page/s:
299-313
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Literacy
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
Relevant age group/s:

Bulotsky-Shearer, R. et al. (2012) Peer Play Interactions and Readiness to Learn: A Protective Influence for African American Preschool Children From Low-Income Households (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Guided by a strengths-based resiliency framework, this article reviews a body of research on the positive influence of interactive peer play for African American preschool children from low-income households. This literature provides evidence for positive associations among interactive peer play experiences at home and in school, and childrens early childhood social and academic skills. It presents the development and validation of three distinct dimensions of interactive peer play with African American children attending Head Start. It reviews research examining associations between these 3 dimensions and childrens academic and social outcomes, as well as evidence-based interventions designed to foster interactive peer play for this population. It highlights challenges and directions for future research, with emphasis on the likely research needed to extend our understanding of interactive peer play experiences for Latino and Asian American children and the complex mechanisms through which positive peer interactions during early childhood may support childrens early learning and development.

Date:
January 2012
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
225-231
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Literature review
  • Peers play
  • Pre-academic skills
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Socio-economic background
Relevant age group/s:

Cabrera, N. et al. (2017) The magic of play: Low-income mothers’ and fathers’ playfulness and children's emotion regulation and vocabulary skills (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Using data from a diverse sample of low-income families who participated in the Early Head Start Research Evaluation Project (n = 73), we explored the association between mothers’ and fathers’ playfulness with toddlers, toddler’s affect during play, and children’s language and emotion regulation at prekindergarten. There were two main findings. First, fathers’ playfulness in toddlerhood was associated with children’s vocabulary skills in prekindergarten whereas mothers’ playfulness was related to children’s emotion regulation. Cross-parental effects were found only for mothers. The association between mothers’ playfulness and children’s vocabulary and emotion regulation was strengthened when fathers engaged in more pretend play and when children were affectively positive during the play. These findings show that playfulness is an important source of variation in the vocabulary and emotion regulation of children growing up in low-income families. They also point to domain-specific ways that mothers and fathers promote children’s regulatory and vocabulary skills, and highlight the importance of children’s positive engagement in play.

Date:
January 2017
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
38
Page/s:
757-771
Synonyms:
  • Functional play
  • Language
  • Mental health
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:

Conner, J. et al. (2014) A Play and Language Intervention for Two-Year-Old Children: Implications for Improving Play Skills and Language (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to develop an intervention for 2-year-old children to enhance play and language skills. The intervention was implemented over a 4-week period and included components of reading, modeling, and positive reinforcement of language and play. Specifically, children were read a story and played with a matching toy set. Participants included 10 children, all age 2, who attended a child care center. Five participants received the play intervention, and five were used as comparison. All children were assessed using the Play in Early Childhood Evaluation System (PIECES), the Preschool Language Scale (PLS), and a Vocabulary Assessment. The results of this study showed that children who received the intervention increased pretend play more than the comparison group and also increased comprehension and expressive communication skills more than the comparison group. Implications for early childhood educators and parents are discussed.

Date:
January 2014
Volume:
28
Page/s:
221-237
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Exploratory play
  • Language
  • Peers play
  • Play assessment
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Elias, C. et al. (2002) Self-regulation in young children: Is there a role for sociodramatic play? (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This study tested Vygotsky’s assumption that sociodramatic play in early childhood contributes importantly to the development of self-regulation. It also explored whether the link between sociodramatic play and self-regulation differs for impulsive and nonimpulsive preschoolers. In a short-term longitudinal design, 51 middle-income 3- and 4-year-olds were observed in their preschool classrooms. Naturalistic observations of total dramatic play, complex sociodramatic (CSD) play, and solitary dramatic play and of self-regulation in two classroom contexts—clean-up periods and group circle time—were gathered at Time 1, in the fall of the school year. To assess development of self-regulation, clean-up and circle time observations were repeated at Time 2, in late winter and early spring. CSD play predicted development of self-regulation during clean-up periods, whereas solitary dramatic play was negatively correlated with improvement in clean-up performance. The CSD play/improved self-regulation relationship was particularly strong for high-impulsive children, nil for low-impulsive children. Findings are consistent with Vygotsky’s theory and suggest that sociodramatic experiences may be especially advantageous for impulsive children, who are behind their peers in self-regulatory development.

Date:
January 2002
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
17
Page/s:
216-238
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Longitudinal
  • Peers play
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Solitary play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Farver, J. et al. (2000) Within Cultural Differences: Examining Individual Differences in Korean American and European American Preschoolers' Social Pretend Play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Individual differences in 30Korean American and 30 European American preschoolers’ play behavior were examined to understand how intracultural variations in children’s skills and behavioral characteristics may be associated with social pretend play in early childhood. Observers recorded the children’s social behaviors and play complexity. Teachers rated children’s social behavior, parents completed a child rearing question- naire, and children were given the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelli- gence–Revised and the Multidimensional Stimulus Fluency Measure. The findings showed that there were similar patterns predictive of pretend play for both groups.Over- all, children’s interactive style, positive social interaction with peers, and creativity scores significantly predicted pretend play. The results suggest that individual factors related to pretend play transcend culture.

Date:
January 2000
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
31
Page/s:
583-602
Synonyms:
  • Correlational
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Language
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Fromberg, D. et al. (2006) Play from Birth to Twelve (Book)

Abstract:

In light of recent standards-based and testing movements, the issue of play in childhood has taken on increased meaning for educational professionals and social scientists. This second edition of Play From Birth to Twelve offers comprehensive coverage of what we now know about play, its guiding principles, its dynamics and importance in early learning. These up-to-date essays, written by some of the most distinguished experts in the field, help students explore:
all aspects of play, including new approaches not yet covered in the literature
how teachers in various classroom situations set up and guide play to facilitate learning
how play is affected by societal violence, media reportage, technological innovations and other contemporary issues
which areas of play have been studied adequately and which require further research.

Date:
January 2006
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Games with rules
  • Humour
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Peers play
  • Physical play
  • Pretend play
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional

Hobson, J. et al. (2015) Symbolizing as interpersonally grounded shifts in meaning: social play in children with and without autism (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The aim of this study was to examine the relation between symbolic play and communicative engagement among children with and without autism. Our predictions were firstly, that in moment-by-moment interactions during semi-structured interactive play with an adult, children with and without autism would tend to show shifts in meanings in symbolic play when engaged in coordinated states of joint engagement (events involving 'sharing-of-meaning'); secondly, that across atypically developing participants, sharing-of-meaning would (a) correlate with scores on a standardized test of pretend play, and (b) be inversely correlated with scores on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule; and finally, that participants with autism would contrast with matched developmentally delayed participants in manifesting lower levels of joint engagement, lower levels of symbolic play, and fewer shifts in symbolic meaning. Each of these predictions was borne out. The intimate developmental relation between social engagement and symbolic play appears to be important for explaining the developmental psychopathology of autism.

Date:
January 2015
Volume:
45
Page/s:
42-52
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Symbolic play
Research discipline:

Lee, M. et al. (2018) Culture-specific links between maternal executive function, parenting, and preschool children's executive function in South Korea (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Background Research on the relationships between parental factors and children's executive function (EF) has been conducted mainly in Western cultures. Aim This study provides the first empirical test, in a non-Western context, of how maternal EF and parenting behaviours relate to child EF. Sample South Korean mothers and their preschool children (N = 95 dyads) completed EF tasks. Method Two aspects of parental scaffolding were observed during a puzzle task: contingency (i.e., adjusting among levels of scaffolding according to the child's ongoing evidence of understanding) and intrusiveness (i.e., directive, mother-centred interactions). Results and Conclusions Maternal EF and maternal contingency each accounted for unique variance in child EF, above and beyond child age, child language and maternal education. Maternal intrusiveness, however, was not significantly related to child EF. Additionally, no mediating role of parenting was found in the maternal and child EF link. However, child language was found to partially mediate the link between maternal contingency and child EF. These results complement prior findings by revealing distinctive patterns in the link between maternal EF, parenting behaviours, and child EF in the Korean context.

Date:
January 2018
Volume:
88
Page/s:
216-235
Synonyms:
  • Executive function
  • Language
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

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: