Pretend play, social competence and involvement in children aged 5-7 years: The concurrent validity of the Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment

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Abstract

Background and aims:

The aims of this study were to investigate the relationship between pretend play, social competence and involvement in school-based activities in children aged 5-7 years and to determine whether children's social competence and level of involvement could be inferred from their scores on the Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment.

Procedure:

The pretend play skills of 41 primary school-aged children aged 5-7 years were assessed on a one-on-one basis. Classroom teachers of the children assessed the children's social competence using the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale and their involvement in school based activities using the Leuven Involvement Scale for Young Children.

Main findings:

Significant positive relationships were found between elaborate pretend play and object substitution scores, involvement scores and peer play interaction scores (P < 0.05, P < 0.01). A significant negative relationship was found between elaborate pretend play scores, and social disconnection and social disruption scores (P < 0.05). Play deficit indicators were significantly negatively related to involvement scores (P < 0.01). This suggests that children with proficient pretend play skills are socially competent with peers and are able to engage in classroom activity. Children who scored poorly on the play assessment were more likely to have difficulty interacting with their peers and engaging in school activities.

Conclusion:

Social competence and involvement skills are related to a child's ability to engage in pretend play. A child's social skills and ability to engage in school activities as assessed by teachers can be inferred from their scores on the Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment.

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