A Review: Journal of Research in Childhood Education Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring/Summer 2001

Article excerpt

This biannual column informs Childhood Education readers about the practical contents of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education (see JRCE, Vol. 15, No. 2).

Preschoolers' Play Behaviors With Peers in Classroom and Playground Settings

-- Shim, Herwig, & Shelley

This study was designed to assess the features of indoor and outdoor play environments and to evaluate the quality of the child care center as it influences children's peer interactions. Children were videotaped and tape-recorded during free play and on the playground. Videotapes of play behaviors with peers were evaluated using a time-sampling procedure. The Assessment Profile for Early Childhood Programs described the activities, organization, and overall quality of each environment. The protocols presented by Kritchevsky, Prescott, and Walling evaluated outdoor play environment for complexity and variety of equipment and materials, and for the number of play spaces per child. Children's play behaviors were categorized using a modified form of the Parten-Smilansky Play Scale. Results indicated children were more likely to engage in the most complex form of peer play (i.e., interactive dramatic play) outdoors than indoors. The older age group was more likely than the younger age group to interact with peers outdoors. The outdoor playground offered older preschoolers more of particular types of play experiences (i.e., functional play and dramatic play) than the classroom.

Solitary-Active Play Behavior: A Marker Variable for Maladjustment in the Preschool?

-- Coplan, Wichmann, & Lagace-Seguin

This quantitative study explored the construct of solitary-active play as a behavioral marker for maladjustment in the preschool. Solitary-active behavior involves the exhibition of solitary-pretense activity in the presence of peers. Although occurring infrequently during free play, this form of nonsocial play appears to be highly negatively salient to teachers and peers. Preschoolers observed during free play over a two-week period. Additional measures included parental ratings of child temperament and attitude towards school, teacher ratings of behavior problems, and assessments of children's vocabulary and academic achievement drawn from interviews. The results indicated that children who frequently, as compared to their peers, engaged in solitary-active behaviors were less attentive, more difficult to soothe, and more shy; they displayed more externalizing problems, performed more poorly on assessments of early academic skills, and had a less positive attitude towards school. The authors discuss the results in terms of social and academic maladjustment.

Block Play Performance Among Preschoolers As a Predictor of Later School Achievement in Mathematics

-- Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones

This correlational study explored the relationship between preschool-age children's levels of block play with later school achievement in mathematics. In 1982, a group of preschoolers attending a play-oriented preschool were tested using the Lunzer Five-Point Play Scale to obtain a block performance measure. To statistically control for IQ and gender, the McCarty Scales of Children's Abilities were given. In 1998, after these same participants had completed high school, their records were obtained; outcome measures for the 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades included standardized test scores in mathematics and report card grades in math. While controlling for IQ and gender, the block performance measure was analyzed against these outcome variables. No significance was found at the 3rd- and 5th-grade levels when evaluating report card grades and standardized math scores. At the 7th-grade level, there was significant correlation between blocks and standardized math scores, but not for report card grades. There was positive correlation with all high school outcome variables. At the beginning of middle school, 7th grade, and in high school, a positive correlation between preschool block performance and math achievement was demonstrated. …