The effect of social context during play on preschool student’s growth in literacy and self-regulation

The effect of social context during play on preschool student’s growth in literacy and self-regulation

First Author: Rain Lima -- UCI
Additional authors/chairs: 
Dennis Dang Carol Connor; Ashley Adams; Carol Connor
Keywords: Literacy, early childhood (age 4 - 6), Preschool
Abstract / Summary: 

Play has been shown to have a positive impact on preschool children’s social, emotional, and language development. Particular interactions during play, such as teacher–child or peer–peer interactions, may have varying effects on children’s language development and readiness to learn. This study explores the impact of instructional factors during play on children’s growth in decoding skills, vocabulary, and behavioral self-regulation.Preschool children (n = 137) were observed three times throughout the year using the Optimizing Learning Opportunities for Students (OLOS) observation system. OLOS is a web-based observation system for early childhood classrooms that captures a variety of student participatory actions, and the amounts and types of instruction each observed child received throughout a given day. Play instruction was either coded as teacher-managed, peer-managed, or individual-managed depending on who directed the child’s attention during the observed activity. Children were also assessed on their literacy decoding skills, vocabulary, and behavioral self-regulation throughout the year.
Preliminary findings revealed that after controlling for the amount of code-focused instruction children received, teacher-managed play instruction positively predicted growth in literacy decoding skills, while peer-managed and individual-managed play instruction did not. Teacher-managed play instruction also positively predicted growth in behavioral self-regulation.
According to Vygotsky (1976), play is perhaps the leading source of development for preschool children. The findings suggest that a teacher’s direct involvement in a child’s playtime experience is linked to growth in literacy decoding skills and behavioral self-regulation. Future analyses will examine in more detail the activities that occur during teacher-managed play instruction, classroom level variables, and possible interaction effects that lead to these positive developmental outcomes.