The Collaborative Construction of Pretend: Social Pretend Play Functions

The Collaborative Construction of Pretend: Social Pretend Play Functions

The Collaborative Construction of Pretend: Social Pretend Play Functions

The Collaborative Construction of Pretend: Social Pretend Play Functions

Synopsis

The Collaborative Construction of Pretend explores the origins and development of social pretend play in children. It begins with the infant's first attempts to play pretend with an adult; discusses the beginnings of toddler pretend with peers; and investigates the fully developed social play of preschool and school age children. The author argues that social pretend play can fulfill several different developmental functions and that these functions change with development. Each of these functions are rooted in the individual development of the child and in the social context. Thus the book looks at developmental progressions not only in the forms of social pretend play but in the meaning of the play to the child."

Excerpt

Imagine that you are visiting a child-care center. You begin in the yard where toddler-age children are playing in a sandbox. One child shapes a pile of sand into a "cake" and says "birthday" while a child beside her fills a cup with sand, raises it to his lips, and does not take a drink. In the three-year-olds' room a group of children are in the block comer near a long string of foot-long blocks. A girl says, "Pretend this is the magic snake." A boy says, "Yes, but it is a train snake and I am the engineer." In the four-year-olds' room you see children dressed in flowing gowns acting out a fantasy play with kings, queens, and princesses. One child informs you that he is the dragon, the princess is going to run away, and the king and the queen will hunt for her.

You may conclude from your visit that social pretend play is a favorite, if not an important activity of childhood. Psychologists, parents, and early childhood educators have long been interested in children's social pretend play. Research on children's play suggests that besides being fun and interesting for both the children and the adults who watch them, play has important educational implications. Children's social pretend play is linked to all aspects of development—emotional, cognitive, linguistic, and social. (See Johnson, Christie, & Yawkey 1987; and Rubin, Fein, & Vandenberg 1983 for reviews of this literature.) In this book we argue that the development of children's social competence, particularly of their competence in forming relationships with peers, is closely linked to their social pretend play.

The field of early peer relationships and friendships has been characterized by rich descriptive studies of relationship and interactive processes with little theoretical structure. Recently, Gottman and colleagues (Gottman & Mettetal 1986; Parker & Gottman 1989) and Howes (1987, 1988) proposed alternative models for the sequential development of social relation‐ . . .

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