Kindergarten is the age at which children's future time perspective emerges. This capacity enables them to form goals based on past and ongoing experiences and project themselves in the future. This development may play an important role in guiding children in self-regulated learning. When faced with the conflict between their need to learn and their desire to play (CLP), children make choices based on their perceptions of CLP. However, their CLP-related perceptions and responses are also influenced by the values their culture upholds. Research shows that Western learning emphasizes more mental activities and positive affect, whereas East Asian learning stresses more social/moral self-perfection. Children's CLP-related perceptions and responses are likely shaped by their respective cultures' values.Aims.
This study examined kindergartners' emergent perceptions of and responses to CLP. Both commonalities and possible cultural differences were investigated.Sample.
The sample was 130 middle-class European-American and Chinese kindergartners, balanced for culture and gender.Method.
Children each heard a story beginning with a picture of a protagonist who is practicing words at home but hears children playing outside. Children were asked to complete the story and were probed further when they mentioned ideas related to learning and play. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for coding. Tests were conducted for group differences.Results and Conclusions.
Most children from both groups identified CLP and shared similar views about their need to complete schoolwork, benefits of learning, negativity of neglecting learning, and ways to resist temptation to play. However, large cultural differences also emerged. Chinese children showed greater awareness of CLP and expressed more positive regard for learning, learning virtues, and receptivity to adult expectations.