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An investigation into the effect of play-based instruction on the development of play skills and oral language

Stagnitti, K., Bailey, A., Hudspeth Stevenson, E., Reynolds, E., & Kidd, E. (2016). An investigation into the effect of play-based instruction on the development of play skills and oral language. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 14(4), 389-406. doi:10.1177/1476718X15579741.
The current study investigated the influence of a play-based curriculum on the development of pretend play skills and oral language in children attending their first year of formal schooling. In this quasi-experimental design, two groups of children were followed longitudinally across the first 6 months of their first year at school. The children in the experimental group were attending a school with a play-based curriculum; the children in the control group were attending schools following a traditional curriculum. A total of 54 children (Time 1 Mage = 5;6, range: 4;10–6;2 years) completed standardised measures of pretend play and narrative language skills upon school entry and again 6 months later. The results showed that the children in the play-based group significantly improved on all measures, whereas the children in the traditional group did not. A subset of the sample of children (N = 28, Time 1 Mage = 5;7, range: 5;2 – 6;1) also completed additional measures of vocabulary and grammar knowledge, and a test of non-verbal IQ. The results suggested that, in addition to improving play skills and narrative language ability, the play-based curriculum also had a positive influence on the acquisition of grammar.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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