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Effect of School Pretend Play on Preschoolers’ Social Competence in Peer Interactions: Gender as a Potential Moderator

Abstract

This study investigated the moderating effect of gender on the causal relationships between different school play activities (pretend and non-pretend play) and social competence in peer interactions among a sample of Hong Kong children. Participants were 60 Hong Kong preschoolers (mean age = 5.44, 36.67 % female). Children with matched home pretend play time period were randomly assigned to pretend or non-pretend play groups to take part in pretend or non-pretend play activities respectively in the 1-month kindergarten play training. Children’s pre- and post-training social competences were assessed by their teachers. Results revealed a trend that girls who participated in school pretend play tended to be less disruptive during peer interactions after the training than those who participated in non-pretend play, while boys were similarly benefited from the two play activities. The implications for play-related research and children’s social competence development are discussed.

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Correspondence to Rebecca Wing-yi Cheng.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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The article is based on the first author’s Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology thesis, under the supervision of the second author, submitted to the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

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Fung, Wk., Cheng, R.Wy. Effect of School Pretend Play on Preschoolers’ Social Competence in Peer Interactions: Gender as a Potential Moderator. Early Childhood Educ J 45, 35–42 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-015-0760-z

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Keywords

  • Pretend play
  • Social competence
  • Preschool
  • Gender