Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pretend Play May Not Be as Crucial to Child Development as Believed, New Study Shows

29.08.2012
Pretend play can be fun for preschool children, but a new University of Virginia study, published in the current online edition of the journal Psychological Bulletin, finds that it is not as crucial to a child's development as currently believed.
Pretend play is any play a child engages in, alone, with playmates, or with adults, that involves uses of the imagination to create a fantasy world or situation, such as making toy cars go “vrrooooom” or making dolls talk.

Based on a number of key studies over four decades, pretend play is widely considered by psychologists – and teachers and parents – to be a vital contributor to the healthy development of children's intellect.

However, the new U.Va. study – a thorough review of more than 150 studies – looked for clearly delineated contributions of pretend play to children's mental development, and found little or no correlation.

Much of the previously presented "evidence" for the vitality of pretend play to development is derived from flawed methodology, according to Angeline Lillard, the new study's lead author and a U.Va. professor of psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences. She said testers might have been biased by knowledge that they were testing children who had engaged in adult-directed pretend play prior to testing.

“We found no good evidence that pretend play contributes to creativity, intelligence or problem-solving,” Lillard said. “However, we did find evidence that it just might be a factor contributing to language, storytelling, social development and self-regulation.”

She said it is often difficult for psychologists to separate whether children who engage in pretend play are already creative and imaginative, or if the pretend play, often encouraged by parents or teachers, actually promotes development.

“When you look at the research that has been done to test that, it comes up really short,” Lillard said. “It may be that we've been testing the wrong things; and it may well be that when a future experiment is really well done we may find something that pretend play does for development, but at this point these claims are all overheated. This is our conclusion from having really carefully read the studies.”

Lillard emphasized that various elements often present during pretend play – freedom to make choices and pursue one’s own interests, negotiation with peers and physical interaction with real objects – are valuable, especially with appropriate levels of adult guidance.

These conditions exist both in pretend play and in other playful preschool activities that encourage children to discover their own interests and talents, such as the method used in Montessori schools.

Pretend play is also important diagnostically for children between 18 months and 2 years old, Lillard said. A complete absence of pretend play among children of that narrow age range could indicate autism, and suggests that such children be evaluated for other signs of the neurological disorder.

A growing problem, she said, is a trend in schools toward intensively preparing children for tests – often supplanting organized and informal playtime, leading to a debate over whether early childhood curricula should include materials and time for pretend play.

“Playtime in school is important,” Lillard said. “We found evidence that – when a school day consists mostly of sitting at desks listening to teachers – recess restores attention and that physical exercise improves learning.”

Regarding pretend play, she said, “If adults enjoy doing it with children, it provides a happy context for positive adult-child interaction, a very important contributor to children’s healthy development.”

Stephen Hinshaw, editor of Psychological Bulletin and a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, said, “The article by Lillard and colleagues is a game-changer – a paragon of carefully-reasoned evidence that will challenge the play-based domination of the early-childhood field for years to come.”

Lillard’s graduate student co-authors are Rebecca Dore, Emily Hopkins, Matthew Lerner, Carrie Palmquist and Eric Smith.

About the Author
Fariss Samarrai
Senior News Officer
U.Va. Media Relations
farisss@virginia.edu
(434) 924-3778

Media Contact:
Fariss Samarrai
Senior News Officer
U.Va. Media Relations
farisss@virginia.edu
(434) 924-3778

Fariss Samarrai | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>