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Preschool teachers' views of active play.

This study surveyed 98 teachers of 4-year-olds about dramatic play in their classrooms and about their attitudes and practices about rough-and-tumble play. Gender differences emerged in the nature of dramatic play reported and in the ways in which teachers interacted with children engaged in different forms of dramatic play. Teachers also reported their coursework coursework
Noun

work done by a student and assessed as part of an educational course

Noun 1. coursework - work assigned to and done by a student during a course of study; usually it is evaluated as part of the student's
 in early childhood education as the greatest influence on their beliefs and attitudes about rough-and-tumble play. The findings have implications for curriculum planning, school behavior policies, and teacher education programs.

Keywords: play, prekindergarten teachers, early childhood education

**********

Four-year-olds are entering school in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  in record numbers. Currently, 39 states serve more than a million children in state-supported prekindergarten (pre-K) programs (Barnett, Hustedt, Robin, & Schulman, 2005). Public support for pre-K comes from many fronts. First, advances in understanding the impact of early experiences on brain development and schooling have prompted public interest in early schooling (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Second, research findings clearly suggest that high-quality pre-K experiences can benefit children, particularly those children considered to be at risk for school failure (Barnett et al., 2005), and high-quality programs save money for taxpayers through fewer grade retentions, fewer special education placements, less delinquency delinquency

Criminal behaviour carried out by a juvenile. Young males make up the bulk of the delinquent population (about 80% in the U.S.) in all countries in which the behaviour is reported.
, and lower incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.

Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes.
 rates for adolescents and adults (F. A. Campbell, Ramey, Pungello, Sparling spar·ling  
n.
1. The common European smelt (Osperus eperlanus).

2. A young or immature herring.



[Middle English sperlinge, from Old French esperlinge,
, & Miller-Johnson, 2002; Lally, Mangione, & Honig, 1988; Schweinhart & Weikart, 1997). Third, pre-K is seen as a tool for increasing equity among children, ensuring that children enter kindergarten kindergarten [Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be  with the skills they need to succeed in school (Gormley, Grayer, Phillips, & Dawson, 2005; Magnuson, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2007).

The public attitude toward early learning has shifted. It is now accepted that all children can learn, not only those from privileged homes (Camilli, Vargas, Ryan, & Barnett, 2008). Standards-based instruction and school accountability assume that, regardless of family circumstance, children can achieve. Program assessments suggest that children are learning academic skills even if behavioral challenges remain (Zill, Sorongon, & Kim, 2003). State standards for pre-K reflect a focus on learning specific skills, particularly related to early literacy over social skills (Scott-Little, Kagan, & Frelow, 2006). Although play, particularly pretend play, is regarded as a valuable tool for promoting early literacy (Bennett-Armistead, Duke, & Moses, 2005; Spodek & Saracho, 2006), curricula in many programs focus more on the teaching of isolated skills related to reading and math than on play, the traditional tool of early childhood education (Neuman, 2006). The consequences of these choices are not yet clear.

The changing nature of pre-K may be affecting boys and girls boys and girls

mercurialisannua.
 differently. Although the activity level of 4-year-olds is higher than that of older children (DiPietro, 1981), there are gender differences among the 4-year-olds, particularly when they play with same-gender peers. Girls who play with other girls are less active than boys and often choose to play in areas close to adults. Boys playing with other boys are more aggressive in their play and tend to play farther away from adults (Martin & Fabes, 2001). Observational and biological studies show that the level of physical activity among boys is higher than among girls (Fromel, Stelzer, Groffik, & Ernest, 2008; Pellegrini, 2002). As 4-year-olds enter public schools in increasing numbers, discussions about what children should learn must be coupled with discussions of how they should be taught to help boys and girls be equally successful. The purpose of the current study is to explore pre-K teachers' ideas about the role of dramatic play, a traditional component of early childhood curriculum. Embedded Inserted into. See embedded system.  in this research question is an exploration of teachers' attitudes and practices toward rough-and-tumble play, the form of active dramatic play most often favored by young boys.

BOYS IN PREKINDERGARTEN

Boys are falling behind girls in achievement and surpassing girls in terms of special education placements (Rathbun & West, 2004). "Young boys are spending more time in highly structured experiences and are not achieving, even with the weight of state and national educational reform.... For the most part, boy problems have not become part of the national discourse on education" (Tyre Tyre (tīr), ancient city of Phoenicia, S of Sidon. It is the present-day Sur in Lebanon, a small town on a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean from the mainland of Syria S of Beirut. , 2008, p. 7). Only recently has public attention turned to the struggles of boys and the implications for society (Riley & Jones, 2007). As academic expectations become higher, pressure for focused attention and achievement increases among teachers and parents. Although all pre-K children have the capacity to learn, not all pre-K children have an equal capacity to sit quietly and learn. The gender gap in achievement begins early, as reflected by a study on pre-K expulsion EXPULSION. The act of depriving a member of a body politic, corporate, or of a society, of his right of membership therein, by the vote of such body or society, for some violation of hi's.  (Gilliam, 2005) showing that boys were expelled at a rate 4.5% higher than that of girls. (Most of the expulsions were for behavioral reasons.) It is unclear from this study whether the curriculum had an impact on children expelled in the Gilliam study or how the teachers defined the challenging behavior underlying the expulsions. As yet, few studies investigate whether female teachers remove themselves from boys' active play. When Logue and Shelton (2008) actively engaged children's interest in "bad guy" play, rather than stopping or ignoring it, children increased their levels of conversation and writing. Pellegrini and Smith (1988) suggested that the scant scant  
adj. scant·er, scant·est
1. Barely sufficient: paid scant attention to the lecture.

2. Falling short of a specific measure: a scant cup of sugar.
 extant ex·tant  
adj.
1. Still in existence; not destroyed, lost, or extinct: extant manuscripts.

2. Archaic Standing out; projecting.
 research on children's high levels of physical activity reflects adult ambivalence ambivalence (ămbĭv`ələns), coexistence of two opposing drives, desires, feelings, or emotions toward the same person, object, or goal. The ambivalent person may be unaware of either of the opposing wishes.  about the role of such play in learning and development.

ACTIVE, PRETEND PLAY AND CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT

During the preschool years, active, physical play peaks at around age 4 and often co-occurs with pretend play (MacDonald & Parke, 1986). From infancy, boys are more physically active than are girls (D. W. Campbell & Eaton, 1999; Fromel et al., 2008; Maccoby, 1974; Martin & Fabes, 2001; Whiting & Edwards, 1988), and boys' play is more vigorous, often co-occurring with play fighting In humans, play fighting (sometimes called roughhousing) is an activity in which two or more people act as though they are in combat, but without actually meaning to harm their partners, nor dealing sufficient bodily harm to make the game unenjoyable.  and superhero su·per·he·ro  
n. pl. su·per·he·roes
A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime.
 themes (Holland, 2003; Pellegrini & Perlmutter, 1987). Active, physical pretend play involving such activities as running, chasing, climbing, playfully play·ful  
adj.
1. Full of fun and high spirits; frolicsome or sportive: a playful kitten.

2.
 wrestling, grabbing, kicking, and tumbling constitutes almost one fourth of children's behavior (McGrew, 1972; Smith & Connolly, 1980). The term rough-and-tumble play was originally used to describe the play fighting, chasing, and wrestling in rhesus monkeys (Harlow & Harlow, 1965) and was picked up by ethologists to describe a type of human juvenile play.

A recent study examining preschool boys' play failed to find differences in physical and verbal aggression between children playing Album Info
  • Artist: Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers
  • Genre: Reggae
  • Label: EMI Records and Tuff Gong
  • Year: 1986
Tracks
Side 1
  1. Met Her On A Rainy Day
  2. Reggae Is Now
  3. Children Playing in the Streets
  4. Rock It Baby
 with superhero toys and those playing with other toys (Parsons & Howe, 2006). The boys in this study incorporated weapons into their play, with or without the prompt of superhero toys. The authors suggested that superhero play may be a subcategory sub·cat·e·go·ry  
n. pl. sub·cat·e·go·ries
A subdivision that has common differentiating characteristics within a larger category.
 of rough-and-tumble play and not a separate category. For purposes of the current study, the definition of rough-and-tumble play used by the ethologists was expanded to include superhero play. Based on a comprehensive literature review and the scale development process, as suggested by DeVellis (2003), rough-and-tumble play in the current study was defined as superhero play, play fighting (including wrestling), chase games, and protect/rescue games.

Rough-and-tumble play has been observed in all animal species as well as in humans (Fry, 2005). Although its exact function is debated, it is unlikely that rough-and-tumble play would be so widespread if it was not adaptive from an evolutionary perspective. It allows individuals to explore social boundaries, to practice and test their level of strength, and to determine agility and social placement in the group. It also allows children to develop and practice restraint as they pretend to be aggressive.

Rough-and-tumble play differs from real aggression in many key ways. Threat is absent, smiles and play faces are evident, roles reverse, and children of different sizes and dominance levels play together (Fry, 2005). Among children younger than age 8, aggressive signals rarely co-occur during the same interaction (Fry, 1987; Smith & Lewis, 1985). Children remain in each other's company after a bout of rough-and-tumble play, but separate after an aggressive episode (Smith & Lewis, 1985). Rough-and-tumble play also typically involves more than two children, reflecting a willingness or even an eagerness to allow others to join (Fry, 1987). According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the noted ethnologist eth·nol·o·gy  
n.
1. The science that analyzes and compares human cultures, as in social structure, language, religion, and technology; cultural anthropology.

2.
 and anthropologist Gregory Bateson Gregory Bateson (9 May 1904 – 4 July 1980) was a British anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields.  (1972), rough-and-tumble play helps children develop symbolic thinking and metacommunication. Children learn the difference between a "nip" and a "bite" through play, important distinctions between behaviors that seem similar. It is through such play, according to Piaget (1965), that children appreciate games with rules and learn about justice. Children learn about their personal limits and the impact of their behavior on others. Much of this learning is nonverbal non·ver·bal  
adj.
1. Being other than verbal; not involving words: nonverbal communication.

2. Involving little use of language: a nonverbal intelligence test.
, and adults do not direct it. Some children fail to make distinctions between play fighting and real fighting. The inability to differentiate subtleties in others' social behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social.  contributes to social risk (Coie & Kupersmidt, 1983; Pellegrini, 1988).

Children can differentiate between episodes of rough-and-tumble play and aggression (Costabile et al., 1991; Smith, Smees, & Pellegrini, 2004). When asked why they play fight, the boys responded, "Because it's fun." Most play-fighting partners are friends (85%), and half are best friends (Smith et al., 2004; Smith, Smees, Pellegrini, & Menesini, 2002).

Researchers have noted benefits to rough-and-tumble play in the early childhood classroom (French & Pena, 1991; Holland, 2003; Logue & Shelton, 2008). This type of play allows children to practice skills in a play setting that are not possible to duplicate in the "real world." It also allows children to begin to distinguish between aggression and play. Schafer and Smith (1996) estimated that approximately only 1% of all pretend play develops into real aggression. Of that 1%, 75% of episodes were among children who were socially marginalized or who had previously demonstrated aggressive tendencies. For children who lack language skills, rough-and-tumble play can be an entry to social play. Comparing popular and unpopular children, Coie and Kupersmidt (1983) found that both groups of children engaged in rough-and-tumble play at similar frequencies. The difference is not in the frequency of the play, but rather in how other children perceived the experience. Pellegrini (1988) noted that the popular children saw the interaction as playful play·ful  
adj.
1. Full of fun and high spirits; frolicsome or sportive: a playful kitten.

2.
, whereas the unpopular children perceived it as aggressive. For the unpopular children, the play did escalate es·ca·late  
v. es·ca·lat·ed, es·ca·lat·ing, es·ca·lates

v.tr.
To increase, enlarge, or intensify: escalated the hostilities in the Persian Gulf.

v.intr.
 into aggression. Pellegrini argued that the likelihood of rough-and-tumble play turning into aggression was high only for unpopular children. For popular children, this form of play contributed to increased social competence, reciprocal role taking, flexibility, and problem solving problem solving

Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error.
. The benefits to rough-and-tumble and superhero play are clear for popular children. Because boys engage in rough-and-tumble play more often than girls do, this avenue to social competence among boys may be different than the route taken by girls.

TEACHERS' VIEWS OF ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE PLAY

Although studies looking at gender differences in children's play were common in the 1980s, they are less frequent now. Beverly Fagot's play study (1985) suggested that though preschool teachers reinforce quiet, "feminine" behavior and not rough-and-tumble play, it did not stop boys from engaging in it. Humphreys and Smith (1984) noted tremendous variation in how much preschools permitted, accepted, or banned rough-and-tumble play. While seeking schools in which to conduct research, they found some head teachers viewing rough-and-tumble play as harmless and fun and were happy to include it as long as no one was hurt, whereas others saw all behavior that appeared to be aggressive as truly aggressive. Heaton (cited by Humphreys & Smith, 1984) showed videotapes of rough-and-tumble play and episodes of aggression to 4-year-olds and adults. Although the children and adults agreed to a significant degree about the playful aspects of rough-and-tumble, one teacher used her own knowledge of children to make a judgment and achieved comparatively low levels of agreement with the children. Heaton believed this was because the teacher was unable to concede con·cede  
v. con·ced·ed, con·ced·ing, con·cedes

v.tr.
1. To acknowledge, often reluctantly, as being true, just, or proper; admit. See Synonyms at acknowledge.

2.
 that play-fighting encounters between certain children were playful.

Educators are taking a new interest in the challenges that boys are facing in school (Garbarino, 2000; Katch, 2001; Kindlon & Thompson, 2000; Tyre, 2008) and, as such, are viewing rough-and-tumble play as a legitimate and valuable way for boys to interact. However, this sentiment is not widely shared in schools, as reflected by the comment, "Most educators don't consider that they need to fix the environment that these boys are learning in .... They'd rather try to fix the boy" (Tyre, 2008, p. 81).

Zero tolerance The policy of applying laws or penalties to even minor infringements of a code in order to reinforce its overall importance and enhance deterrence.

Since the 1980s the phrase zero tolerance has signified a philosophy toward illegal conduct that favors strict imposition of
 of rough-and-tumble play was historically supported based on the belief of a connection between children's early involvement in aggressive play themes and the development of aggressive behaviors (Holland, 2003). The historical struggle to align what is happening in the classroom with personal philosophies of peace education may lead many teachers to validate the zero tolerance approach as a proactive intervention to early expression of male violence. Holland suggested that zero tolerance inhibits children from developing and practicing imaginative and negotiating skills and may mediate MEDIATE, POWERS. Those incident to primary powers, given by a principal to his agent. For example, the general authority given to collect, receive and pay debts due by or to the principal is a primary power.  the real risk factors present in those children's lives in relation to aggressive behaviors. To consider rough-and-tumble play as a potentially valuable activity, teachers must be willing to suspend their personal views.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The nature of pre-K programs is becoming increasingly academic, despite a strong research base supporting dramatic play as a valuable tool for promoting academic achievement (Roskos & Christie, 2001). The study reported in this article was designed to survey teachers' perceptions of dramatic play, including rough-and-tumble play, commonly observed among young boys. Few studies examine how teachers' perceptions of rough-and-tumble play affect their instructional and guidance choices (Logue, Robie, Brown, & Walt, 2009). Discussions of the roles that adults play in supporting dramatic play (including rough-and-tumble play), with its potential for strengthening oral language, storytelling Storytelling
Aesop

semi-legendary fabulist of ancient Greece. [Gk. Lit.: Harvey, 10]

Münchäusen

Baron traveler grossly embellishes his experiences. [Ger. Lit.
, role taking, and metacognition, is missing from the school readiness literature. From the child development literature, it is clear that active, rough-and-tumble play, including superhero play, will likely be prevalent in any program serving 4-yearold boys (DiPietro, 1981; Parsons & Howe, 2006; Pellegrini & Smith, 1988). How that play is received is likely to affect boys' success in preschool.

The purpose of the current exploratory study is to survey current practices and beliefs surrounding pretend play in classrooms of 4-year-olds. Understanding teachers' views on pretend play, including rough-and-tumble play, will help inform dialogue about realistic behavioral expectations for 4-year-old children. The working definition of rough-and-tumble play used for the current study includes superhero play, play fighting, chase games, and protect/rescue games. The questions guiding this research attempt to describe pre-K teachers' perceptions of dramatic play and, specifically, rough-and-tumble play. Four research questions derived from the literature were examined:

1. What dramatic play themes are evident in classrooms for 4-year-olds, and what gender differences exist among the play themes?

2. To what degree do teachers stop or discourage rough-and-tumble play?

3. How prevalent are no-tolerance policies in schools and classrooms serving 4-year-olds?

4. What do teachers report as major influences on their attitudes toward rough-and-tumble play?

METHOD

Participants

Participants were recruited through direct invitation. Letters of invitation, along with surveys and return envelopes, were mailed to all public pre-K teachers in one northeastern state in the United States. Head Start and child care teachers were recruited through the regional training centers that support Head Start and child care training in the state. Participation in the study was voluntary. Additionally, faculty from the state' s community colleges and 4-year programs offering early childhood degrees distributed questionnaires to teachers in programs where their students were placed. The target population was preschool teachers of 4-year-old children.

The sample population included 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, with an age range from 18 to 60+ years old. Fifteen percent of the teachers were between 18 and 25 years old, 17% were between 26 and 30, 19% were between 31 and 40, 23% were between 41 and 50, 23% were between 51 an d 60, and 1% were older than 60. This group of teachers averaged 9.2 years working with 4-year-olds, ranging from teachers in their first year to one with 32 years of experience. Teachers' educational levels ranged from only a high school degree (12.2%), to child development associate (9.3%), associate's degree (19.6), bachelor's degree (44.3%), master's degree (9.3%), and higher than master's degree (5.3%).

Teachers from a range of early education programs participated in the study; public school pre-Ks made up 39.2% of the sample. Head Start, including collaborations with public schools, made up 40.2%. Other settings sampled included private nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.

Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law.
 (4.1%), private profit (5.2%), and child care and family child care (10.3%).

Children with disabilities were represented in most of the programs sampled. Only 3.1% of the teachers reported not serving children with disabilities and 81.3% included children through inclusive programs (61.5%) or pullout pull·out  
n.
1. A withdrawal, especially of troops.

2. Change from a dive to level flight. Used of an aircraft.

3. An object designed to be pulled out.

Noun 1.
 programs (19.8%). Another 13.5% stated that they did not currently have children with disabilities in their programs but would serve them if they enrolled. A total of 225 surveys were distributed, with a 43% return rate.

Procedure

After approval from the Human Subjects Research Committees at both authors' institutions, surveys were mailed or distributed to potential participants. The completed surveys were mailed to one of the researchers. Upon receiving the surveys, the last page (including the names and/or phone numbers or e-mail addresses of those willing to participate in a follow-up interview) was removed from the surveys and placed in a separate file to protect the participants' confidentiality. Surveys were numbered based on the order in which they were received.

The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS A statistical package from SPSS, Inc., Chicago (www.spss.com) that runs on PCs, most mainframes and minis and is used extensively in marketing research. It provides over 50 statistical processes, including regression analysis, correlation and analysis of variance. , 2002). Qualitative data from open-ended questions were analyzed by themes and used to support the quantitative data.

Instruments

Preschool Teacher A Preschool Teacher is a type of early childhood educator who instructs children from infancy to age 5, which stands as the youngest stretch of early childhood education. Early Childhood Education teachers need to span the continum of children from birth to age 8.  Beliefs and Practices Questionnaire

Preschool teachers completed the Preschool Teacher Beliefs and Practices Questionnaire, a self-developed instrument designed by the researchers. The questionnaire was developed based on key variables and themes presented in the dramatic play and rough-and-tumble play literature. The initial questionnaire included a demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data.  section and contained an additional 46 items, loaded onto three main factors as determined by factor analysis: (1) Prevalence of Dramatic Play Themes, (2) Play Interventions and Rules, (3) and Attitudes Toward Rough-and-Tumble Play. The questionnaire was tested for internal reliability using item analysis and tested for face validity face validity (fāsˑ v·liˑ·di·tē),
n
 and content validity content validity,
n the degree to which an experiment or measurement actually reflects the variable it has been designed to measure.
 through the use of a pilot study and factor analysis. Item analysis was performed on the individual factors (excluding demographics), as was an item analysis for the all factors combined. Item analysis revealed a Cronbach's alpha Cronbach's (alpha) has an important use as a measure of the reliability of a psychometric instrument. It was first named as alpha by Cronbach (1951), as he had intended to continue with further instruments.  coefficient coefficient /co·ef·fi·cient/ (ko?ah-fish´int)
1. an expression of the change or effect produced by variation in certain factors, or of the ratio between two different quantities.

2.
 for Factor 1 (Prevalence of Dramatic Play Themes) of .68 and a coefficient for Factor 2 (Play Interventions and Rules) of .79. A review of the item-total statistics for Factor 1 revealed two negative items, increasing in reliability from .68 to .79 with item deletion deletion /de·le·tion/ (de-le´shun) in genetics, loss of genetic material from a chromosome.

de·le·tion
n.
Loss, as from mutation, of one or more nucleotides from a chromosome.
. Item-total statistics for Factor 2 revealed no negative items, and the deletion of two items increased Cronbach's alpha coefficient from .79 to .81. Item analysis for Factor 3 (Attitudes Toward Rough-and-tumble Play) revealed that by deleting one item, the Cronbach's alpha coefficient increased from .65 to .74. No additional items were added, due to a high number of items needed to increase reliability to .80 for Factor 3. Item analysis also was calculated for all three factors combined and resulted in a strong internal reliability ([alpha] = .70). A review of the item-total statistics revealed that no deletion of items was necessary to increase reliability for all factors combined. After eliminating poorly worded and irrelevant items, the survey resulted in a pool of 43 items.

A pilot study was conducted to test the face validity and content validity of the questionnaire. Participants for the pilot study included 36 preschool teachers, with an age range from 18 to 50 years old. The teachers were from three different early childhood programs, including a private preschool, a university child development center, and a Head Start preschool. First, participants were instructed about the purpose of the questionnaire. In addition to completing the survey, participants were asked the following three questions to determine face validity: (1) Is the title of the survey aligned with the purpose of the study? (2) Are the directions clear, and do they accurately relate the intent for which you should be answering the question? and (3) Does the overall language and reading level of the survey reflect the ability of the group for which the survey will be given? To determine the content validity, participants were asked if additional sections should be added to sufficiently address the topic, and if the items in each section belonged in that section. From the pilot study, 85% of the participants suggested the removal of one item that was unclear. Participants from the pilot study reported a clear understanding of the directions and a clear understanding of the purpose of the study. Of this group, 85% recommended the removal of one item. Removal of the item in Factor 3 did not change the Cronbach's alpha, and it remained at .74. Item analysis was again run on the data from the pilot study. The results reported were as follows: Prevalence of Dramatic Play Themes, [alpha] = .77; Play Interventions and Rules, [alpha] = .80; Attitudes Toward Rough-and-Tumble Play, [alpha] = .74.

RESULTS

After the data were gathered, item analysis was conducted to determine the reliability of the sample responses. Similar to the previously reported reliability, item analysis revealed Factor 1 (Prevalence of Dramatic Play Themes) had a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .77; Factor 2 (Play Interventions and Rules) had a coefficient of .80; and Factor 3 (Attitudes Toward Rough-and-Tumble Play) had a coefficient of .74. A combination of all three factors revealed a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .68.

Question 1: What dramatic play themes do teachers report as evident for 4-year-olds, and what gender differences exist among play themes?

Table 1 presents means and standard deviations for the prevalence of dramatic play themes for girls and boys combined and separated by gender.

A series of t tests were performed to examine differences between boys and girls on the prevalence of dramatic play themes. Results showed a significant difference between the amount of superhero play for boys (M = 3.53, SD = 1.51) versus girls (M = 2.34, SD = 1.23), t(194) = 5.98, p < .05 (see Figure 1), a significant difference between house/family play for boys (M = 4.0, SD = 1.01) versus for girls (M = 4.46, SD = .75), t(194) = -3.51, p < .05 (see Figure 2), a statistically significant difference between pretend fighting for boys (M = 3.52, SD = 1.59) versus girls (M = 2.06, SD = 1.16), t(194) = 6.88, p < .05 (see Figure 3), and a significant difference between nurture/care games for boys (M = 3.35, SD = 1.09) versus girls (M = 3.83, SD = 1.05), t(194) = -3.04, p < .05 (see Figure 4). No significant differences were found between boys and girls on the prevalence of protect/rescue games and chase games. Figures 1 through 4 present the reported percentages of how often girls and boys engaged in each dramatic play theme daily and 2-4 times per week.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

Qualitative evidence provided by participants suggests two themes illuminating il·lu·mi·nate  
v. il·lu·mi·nat·ed, il·lu·mi·nat·ing, il·lu·mi·nates

v.tr.
1. To provide or brighten with light.

2. To decorate or hang with lights.

3.
 these findings. First, some teachers view rough-and-tumble play themes as legitimate play choices, whereas others do not:
   Both dramatic and rough-and-tumble play are vital to early
   childhood development. Too many social skills to count are
   practiced while pretending and engaging in the give and take of
   "puppy play ."

      I think there is real value in the normal choices the children
   make for dramatic play: superheroes, animal play, run and chase,
   rescue, families, doctor, etc., because so many real-life feelings
   come up within the context of those play themes.

      My idea of dramatic play is experience created by an adult with a
   specific purpose in mind. In our learning environment, we perceive
   dramatic play as homemaker in the kitchen, postal worker (sorting
   mail, etc.). Rough-and-tumble play is not an acceptable social
   interaction at our school.

      Rough play is too dangerous ... playing house, going fishing,
   doctors, office work, and grocery store keeps dramatic play
   positive.

      I have a concern that some schools are not giving room for some
   rough and tumble play. I feel that some physical contact (friendly)
   is helpful to children and sometimes creates close bonds.


A second theme suggests that factors beyond the teachers' views influence the incidence of any dramatic play in classrooms. The following comments illustrate the conflict new teachers face when their own beliefs conflict with those of their supervisors:
   I would love to incorporate more dramatic play in our curriculum,
   but because of the academic demands of the school system, I find it
   extremely difficult to incorporate it.

      As a first-year teacher, I find myself greatly influenced by the
   demands of the administration.


Question 2: To what degree do teachers stop or discourage rough-and-tumble play?

To examine the degree to which teachers report stopping or discouraging rough-and-tumble play, descriptive data were first examined. Percentages of how often teachers reported stopping or redirecting any type of dramatic play revealed that 25% of the teachers stop or redirect re·di·rect  
tr.v. re·di·rect·ed, re·di·rect·ing, re·di·rects
To change the direction or course of.

n.
A redirect examination.



re
 dramatic play 2-4 times a week for boys and 23% reported they stop or redirect dramatic play daily. For girls, the results revealed that 23% of the teachers stop or redirect play less than monthly and 29% stop or redirect play weekly. A series of t tests were performed to examine the difference between boys versus girls. Results demonstrated no overall significant difference between how often teachers stopped or redirected dramatic play for boys versus girls. A t test revealed a significant difference between how often boys (M= 4.43, SD = .92) versus girls (M= 4.06, SD = 1.1), t(157) = 2.1, p < .05 have social conflicts that require a teacher's intervention.

To look more specifically at the types of interventions that teachers were likely to use when children engage in rough-and-tumble play, a one-way ANOVA anova

see analysis of variance.

ANOVA Analysis of variance, see there
 was calculated. Results indicated a significant difference, F(8, 821) = 9.607, p < .05. Table 2 presents the percentages of how often teachers use particular interventions when children engage in rough-and-tumble play.

It appears from the teachers' comments that some teachers anticipate children's desire for rough-and-tumble play and prepare for it, whereas others anticipate danger and prohibit or stop it immediately.
   Rough-and-tumble play typically leads to someone getting hurt, so I
   redirect. When a child talks about jail, using karate, etc., I'll
   ask questions and redirect.

      Rough play is too dangerous--if allowed, someone is almost always
   hurt, so we just try to eliminate it as much as possible.

      Rough-and-tumble play is not allowed in my classroom. At recess,
   the children may play chase. If it gets rough, the play is stopped.

      I don't see any harm in chase games, as long as guidelines are in
   place for safety. I don't allow the kids to grab each other because
   it too easily ends up in injury.

      I think children need some rough-and-tumble play within reason. I
   will play on the floor with children and say, "I am getting some
   energy out," but I emphasize that we do not hit each other.


Several teachers acknowledged the value that rough-and-tumble play holds for boys and reflected on the teacher's role in supervising the play.
   It is possible to redirect superhero play, but inevitably, the
   children are back at it again a short time later. We ban superhero
   toys at schools. There is no "shooting"; however, Batman,
   Spiderman, Transformers, and Ninja Turtles are the preferred means
   to pretend play among the boys.

      Rough-and-tumble play is inevitable, particularly with boys. It
   seems to satisfy innate physical and cultural drives. As long as
   all participants are enjoying the play and are safe, I don't
   intervene. Play is the basis of all learning in all domains.

      My concern with rough play is, of course, somebody getting hurt,
   but also it disrupts the whole class. I find the pots and pans,
   broom and sink are the most difficult parts of dramatic play to
   control. I find myself removing items from the area after a verbal
   warning. But I don't feel this solves the problem.

      I think it's great! I think children need boundaries and once
   they are known, the children can play well together. I think that
   by not allowing the play, we would be restricting their creative
   ability. I think by telling children "being a superhero is bad"
   that they will wonder if being a hero is bad. The majority of
   children are playing the "good guy."


Question 3: How prevalent are no-tolerance policies in schools and classrooms serving 4-year-olds?

Results from the survey indicated that 46% of the respondents have a "no-tolerance" policy toward rough-and-tumble play and 54% do not. This would suggest that some decisions about rough-and-tumble play are made by teachers alone and others are institutionalized in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize  
tr.v. in·sti·tu·tion·al·ized, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·ing, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·es
1.
a. To make into, treat as, or give the character of an institution to.

b.
. To further examine the prevalence of no-tolerance policies in relation to specific types of programs (public pre-K, Head Start, or neither public pre-K or Head Start), a chi square chi square (kī),
n a nonparametric statistic used with discrete data in the form of frequency count (nominal data) or percentages or proportions that can be reduced to frequencies.
 test was performed. Results showed no significant differences between the type of early childhood program and their policies on no tolerance.

Our working definition of rough-and-tumble play encompasses several different play styles. To better understand which parts of rough-and-tumble play presented the greatest challenges to teachers, a one-way ANOVA was calculated on the degree to which teachers allow each of five rough-and-tumble dramatic play themes in their classrooms. On a 1 to 5 (1 = always allow, 5 = always prohibit) scale, teachers were asked to report the degree to which they allow variations of rough-and-tumble play. Results indicated a significant difference among the variations of rough-and-tumble play, F(4, 474) = 72.09, p < .05. A Tukey's HSD HSD Human Services Department
HSD High Speed Data
HSD Hillsboro School District (Hillsboro, OR)
HSD Hybrid Synergy Drive (Toyota/Lexus)
HSD High School Diploma
HSD Historical Society of Delaware
 post hoc post hoc  
adv. & adj.
In or of the form of an argument in which one event is asserted to be the cause of a later event simply by virtue of having happened earlier:
 test revealed that teachers' attitudes about allowing pretend fighting (M = 4.17, SD = 1.01) was significantly different than for all other types of rough-and-tumble dramatic play: superhero play (M = 2.75, SD = 1.29), t(96) = 1.33,p < .05; protect/rescue (M= 1.75, SD = .83), t(96) = 2.41,p > .05; and chase games (M = 2.43, SD = 1.11), t(96) = 1.74, p > .05. Table 3 presents the reported percentages for how strongly teachers agree or disagree with Verb 1. disagree with - not be very easily digestible; "Spicy food disagrees with some people"
hurt - give trouble or pain to; "This exercise will hurt your back"
 allowing the four different types of rough-and-tumble dramatic play themes. In addition, the dramatic play theme of protect/rescue was also significantly different than all three other types of rough-and-tumble play: superhero play, t(96) = -1.07; pretend fighting, t(96) = -2.42; and chase games, t(96) = -.68.

Play fighting is viewed differently than other parts of rough-and-tumble play. This finding was corroborated cor·rob·o·rate  
tr.v. cor·rob·o·rat·ed, cor·rob·o·rat·ing, cor·rob·o·rates
To strengthen or support with other evidence; make more certain. See Synonyms at confirm.
 by teacher comments. The frequent co-occurrence of superhero play and play fighting is confusing to many teachers:
   At recess, the children may play chase. If it gets rough, the play
   is stopped. Superhero play is allowed as long as it doesn't get
   rough. Power Rangers are not allowed.

      My center does not allow any rough play; however, my belief is
   that children love to act out what they are familiar with and most
   are put in front of the TV when not at school. I wouldn't mind
   letting it happen safely.


Teachers' comments suggest that the incidence of rough-and-tumble play in pre-K programs is more than a teacher's preference. Several teachers point to the ways that school policy and parents' preferences affect the play they allow and discourage:
   I personally don't like play fighting and never permitted it at
   home with my own children. My superintendent does not allow any
   outside play.

      It's necessary, but public pre-K programs are so short there
   isn't a lot of time to allow for dramatic play/r&t. Also, parents
   seem to dislike THEIR children participating in this type of play
   "at school."

      Most of the families I have worked with strongly discourage or
   prohibit rough-and-tumble play in a school environment. This is a
   public pre-K: academic and socially focused. There is no need for
   rough-and-tumble play here ... home is the place for it, but not
   here.

      Rough-and-tumble play is not allowed in public school here, so we
   try to follow the same rules.

      Because we are located in a public school where most
   rough-and-tumble play is not allowed, we try to follow suit. I
   allow r&t play as long as it is safe, but the school has a
   "hands-off" policy that they try to adhere to, so we do as well.

      Rough-and-tumble play was encouraged in one program I was at with
   a written policy. Where I am now, it is all but forbidden. I think
   the program I am at now is too safe.


Question 4: What are the major influences on teachers' attitudes toward rough-and-tumble play?

Figure 5 presents the three most influential factors on teachers' attitudes toward rough-and-tumble play. Results indicated that 78% of the teachers reported that their coursework and training in early childhood education was the most influential factor on their attitudes toward dramatic play. Forty-one percent of teachers reported that the second most influential factor was their own childhood experiences. Last, 32% of teachers reported that "beliefs and attitudes of their co-workers" was the third most influential factor on their attitudes toward dramatic play.

Teachers did not directly address the influences on their thinking about rough-and-tumble play in this survey. However, 54% of the teachers wrote about their beliefs and feelings, and 65% indicated an interest in more training. One teacher's comments reflect the dilemma that many teachers face in trying to balance the results of child development research, the behavior of children in their classes, and traditional teaching approaches:
   I understand there is an importance to rough-and-tumble play. I
   would be very interested in training on how to better facilitate
   it.


[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]

DISCUSSION

As expected, the data from the current study suggest that children in pre-K engage in a range of dramatic play options, some sanctioned by teachers and some not. Overall, pre-K teachers report children playing house/family themes with the greatest frequency, although chase and protect/ rescue themes were also high for boys and girls. The working definition of rough-and-tumble play used for the current study, adopted from play literature, included play fighting, chasing games, protect/rescue games, and superhero play (added for purposes of the current study based on recent research suggesting that superhero play is a subset A group of commands or functions that do not include all the capabilities of the original specification. Software or hardware components designed for the subset will also work with the original.  of rough-and-tumble play).

The data from the current study suggest that though rough-and-tumble play occurs regularly in classrooms, teachers treat the specific behaviors making up the standard definition differently. Play fighting was significantly less often allowed in comparison to other forms of rough-and-tumble play, including chase games, protect/rescue games, and superhero play. The qualitative data from teachers' comments revealed that for those who allowed rough-and-tumble play, particular behaviors of play involving use of weapons or certain characters (e.g., Power Rangers This article lists fictional characters from the Power Rangers universe who have served as Power Rangers. Unlike the List of Power Rangers characters, which lists serving Power Rangers alphabetically alongside other characters from the same fictional universe, this article lists only ) were not allowed. The qualitative data suggest a strong ambivalence among pre-K teachers about what types of play are acceptable and not acceptable. Finally, consideration of the home-school connection is important in understanding acceptable play themes in pre-K classrooms. Some teachers revealed the differences between their own beliefs and what they thought parents would view as acceptable classroom behaviors.

Clear gender differences emerged in teachers' reports of child behavior and in the behavior they stopped or prohibited. Almost half (48%) of teachers stopped or redirected boys' dramatic play daily or several times/week, whereas only 29% of teachers reported stopping or redirecting girls' dramatic play weekly. Teachers intervene in boys' social conflicts significantly more often than they do for girls. We already know that more rough-and-tumble play exists among boys and that superhero play is considered a subcategory of rough-and-tumble play (Holland, 2003; Pellegrini & Perlmutter, 1987). The current study revealed significant differences in the prevalence of dramatic play themes for boys versus girls. Boys engaged in superhero play and play fighting significantly more often than girls, whereas girls more often engaged in house/family play and nurture/care play themes. No differences emerged between how often boys and girls engaged in chase games, suggesting that this type of play may be integrated into various play themes.

The current study suggests that teachers more frequently stop rough-and-tumble play than other forms of dramatic play. Within dramatic play, play fighting, while occurring daily for 40% of boys' play, was the least tolerated play category among teachers. Protect/rescue play was the most tolerated form of rough-and-tumble play. Most teachers perceived chase games and protect/rescue play as acceptable forms of rough-and-tumble play. However, for many teachers, these two specific types of play were not even categorized cat·e·go·rize  
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.



cat
, from their perspective, as components of rough-and-tumble play. This view contradicts the literature, suggesting that chase games and protect/rescue can be categorized within rough-and-tumble play. The current study helps to further clarify the components of rough-and-tumble play as defined by classroom teachers.

Limitations of the Study

The current study solicited teacher perceptions of children's play. There are no direct observations of either the play itself or the teachers' interventions in the play. The study used the definition of rough-and-tumble play reported in the play literature, adding superhero play as a dimension, because it is supported in recent literature. Examination of the various components of this definition show that, for this sample, play-fighting games are viewed very differently by teachers than other aspects of rough-and-tumble play. Our definition may have led teachers to under- or overreport rough-and-tumble play because the definition had several components. Also, because girls and boys engage in chase games (a component of the definition) at relatively the same frequency, but boys engage in play fighting and superhero play more frequently, the data may have underestimated gender differences in play. The survey also did not make a distinction between play allowed inside and outside of the classroom. Future studies should make this distinction.

Additionally, all participants in this study were female. Male teachers might view rough-and-tumble play differently.

Implications and Future Research

Pretend fighting occurs cross-culturally and, for most children, does not escalate into true aggression. It appears from these data that teachers may not be making the distinction between play fighting and real fighting in their interventions. If, as the literature suggests, there is social and cognitive value to rough-and-tumble play, and if boys are prohibited from engaging in it at high rates, future research on the relationship between rough-and-tumble play to school achievement and social adjustment is warranted. If boys, due to their choices of dramatic play themes, are discouraged from dramatic play, how will this affect their early language and literacy development and their engagement in school?

Many teachers expressed ambivalence about the function that rough-and-tumble play serves for children, as well as about their role in allowing or disallowing it. It is evident from the teacher comments that some teachers describe play themes they plan and supply with props (e.g., housekeeping or firefighter) as valuable play, whereas child-initiated rough-and-tumble play themes (e.g., superheroes or play fighting) are viewed as problematic. For one teacher, the idea that child-initiated rough-and-tumble play is viewed by others as dramatic play was a new (and unwelcome) idea. Several teachers indicated a desire for training and discussion about rough-and-tumble play. Further research on these topics may help us better understand the growing achievement gap for boys. Recent curriculum projects integrating boys' active play and the teaching of literacy skills suggest the need for reevaluating how teachers plan curriculum (Logue & Shelton, 2008; Logue et al., 2009). As 4-year-olds enter the public school system in greater numbers, a more in-depth understanding of the gender difference in play can inform curriculum and program policies.

A high percentage of teachers in the current study reported that their attitudes toward rough-and-tumble play were developed though their coursework in early childhood education. Pellegrini and Smith (1993) suggested that adults' ambivalence about active play underlies the underrepresentation of studies about it in the dramatic play literature. To promote research-based practice, it is important to examine the content of early childhood coursework related to rough-and-tumble play and to examine the attitudes of faculty members teaching these courses.

The role of play in learning continues to be an important issue as the numbers of preschool-age children entering public school programs increase, many of which are highly focused on academics. The current study highlights the different attitudes and beliefs held by preschool teachers, all of whom support dramatic play. Academic success for all children requires that early educators continue to examine their own beliefs and build curriculum on sound, research-based practices.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) A method of applying a persistent name to documents, publications and other resources on the Internet rather than using a URL, which can change over time. : 10.1080/02568540903439375

Submitted July 3, 2008; accepted February 16, 2009.

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2. Small and sprightly or mischievous.

3.
 Logue, Child Development and Family Relations, Early Childhood Development, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. E-mail: Mary_Logue@umit.maine.edu
TABLE 1
Means and Standard Deviations for Prevalence of Dramatic Play Themes

                          Overall         Girls        Boys
Type of Dramatic Play    M      SD     M      SD     M      SD

Superhero play *        2.96   1.22   2.34   1.20   3.53   1.53
House/family play *     4.24    .79   4.46    .75   4.00   1.01
Pretend fighting *      2.83   1.19   2.06   1.15   3.52   1.59
Chase games             4.09   1.24   4.03   1.22   4.20   1.22
Protect/rescue play     3.28   1.03   3.58   1.01   3.40   1.03
Nurture/care play *     3.58    .98   3.83   1.05   3.35   1.09

Note. 1 = less than monthly, 2 = monthly, 3 = weekly,
4 = 2-4 times per week, 5 = daily.

* significant difference between gender at the .05 level.

TABLE 2
Reported Percentages of Interventions Used for Rough-and-Tumble Play

                                                            Usually
Type of Intervention                               Almost   Always
Immediately stop it                                34         25
Redirect play to safe area                         40         23
Hug, cuddle, rock, comfort                         17         13
Talk to parents                                    8          12
Have conversations w/children about safety         34         25
Modify environment                                 20         22
Redirect play to quiet activity                    14         27
Observe play uninterrupted until someone is hurt   3          19
Give a warning, then consequence                   16         10

Type of Intervention                               Possibly   Unlikely
Immediately stop it                                   32         6
Redirect play to safe area                            24         8
Hug, cuddle, rock, comfort                            39         18
Talk to parents                                       51         19
Have conversations w/children about safety            24         14
Modify environment                                    42         10
Redirect play to quiet activity                       38         18
Observe play uninterrupted until someone is hurt      32         24
Give a warning, then consequence                      37         20

                                                   Almost
Type of Intervention                               Never
Immediately stop it                                  3
Redirect play to safe area                           5
Hug, cuddle, rock, comfort                           12
Talk to parents                                      10
Have conversations w/children about safety           3
Modify environment                                   6
Redirect play to quiet activity                      2
Observe play uninterrupted until someone is hurt     22
Give a warning, then consequence                     17

TABLE 3
Teachers' Reported Levels of Tolerance for Rough-and-Tumble
Dramatic Play Themes (data in percentages)

                        Always                             Always
Type of Dramatic Play   Allow    Allow   Neutral   Stop   Prohibit

Superhero play            17      35       20       15       13
Pretend fighting           1       9        9       32       50
Protect/rescue            45      40       12        2        1
Chase games               19      41       25        7        7
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Author:Logue, Mary Ellin; Harvey, Hattie
Publication:Journal of Research in Childhood Education
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:8359
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