The impact of social pretend play on preschoolers’ social development : Results of an experimental study
This controlled intervention study with a pre-test, post-test, and follow-up design investigated whether promoting children's social pretend play quality fosters their social development. Twenty-seven Swiss playgroups (N = 211 children, age: M = 43.3 months, SD= 6.5, with a median of 7 children per group) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: Play tutoring, provision of role play material, or control. Standardized tests and educator questionnaires were used to assess children's social pretend play competence and social-cognitive, emotional and social skills as well as their peer relationship quality. Latent change models indicated that children's social pretend play competence, behavioral skills, and positive peer relationships as reported by their educators increased most strongly for children in the play tutoring condition. No significant intervention effects emerged regarding children's social-cognitive or emotional skills. The results show that actively promoting children's social pretend play quality also fosters their social behavior and peer relationships.