Sequential transition of patterns of preschoolers' social interaction during child-initiated play: Is parallel-aware play a bidirectional bridge to other play states?

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Lag-sequential analysis was used to explore the simultaneous sequential transition patterns of preschoolers' social play within natural classroom settings. Subjects were 167 middle- and lower-income 4-year-olds (90 boys and 77 girls) videotaped in three child-initiated play centers. Results indicated that the proportion of social-play states did not vary during the play episodes even when accounting for type of activity center, gender, and SES. Findings also revealed that, during and within child-initiated play centers, a reciprocal relationship existed between parallel-aware and other social-play states. Specifically, knowing preschoolers who were in parallel-aware play significantly increased the likelihood of predicting their shifts into cooperative-social and onlooker play; while knowing children were in cooperative-social, onlooker, and solitary-constructive play predicted shifts into parallel-aware play. Likewise, similar to school-age children's group-entry patterns, preschoolers exhibited a three-step sequential play pattern of going from onlooker behavior into parallel-aware play then into cooperative-social play during child-initiated activities. Also supported was the notion that during child-initiated play episodes parallel-aware play is more than a static bridge into cooperative-social play; it is a dynamic bidirectional crossroad between other social-play states. © 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

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Early Childhood Research Quarterly

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