Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Preschool Outdoor Play: Gender Comparisons in Children's Behaviors and Perceptions

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Preschool Outdoor Play: Gender Comparisons in Children's Behaviors and Perceptions

Article excerpt

The importance of physical play for young children's social, cognitive, and physical development is widely supported (e.g., Barnett, 1990; Bjorklund & Brown, 1998; Corsaro, 2001; NAEYC, 2001). The quantity and quality of benefits associated with physical play, however, depend on multiple factors including gender (Finn, Johansen, & Specker, 2002). For example, boys and girls frequently choose activities according to what is considered appropriate for their own gender (Ignico, 1990; Mead & Ignico, 1992). Gender differences have also been shown in toy choice (Freeman et al., 1995; Frost, 1992), playmate choice (Ausch, 1994; Benenson, 1993), and play type (Johnson & Ershler, 1981; Smith & Inder, 1993). Although much research has been done in regards to children's play, little research has been done on children's preferences when permitted free choice in the outdoor setting (Harper & Hule, 1998) or on a combination of play factors. This study investigated preschoolers' free choice outdoor play behaviors and perceptions in general and across gender. The sample included 16 preschoolers (9 girls, 7 boys). Each child's play behaviors (play level and type, activity, equipment, and group choices) were coded in 10-s intervals, with a minimum of 20 observations for each child. Chi-square analyses revealed significant differences in boys' and girls' play levels and types, activity, and equipment choices. …

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