Mixed-age interactions in long-day child-care

influences on the younger peer's emerging symbolic play

Helen S. Kowalski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The symbolic play of toddlers attending long-day child-care centers was examined to determine its frequency and complexity. Ninety-minutes of videotaped observations were collected of each participant's free play in the outdoor environment in three conditions: same-age group play; mixed age group play; and mixed-age dyad play. The participants' symbolic play was coded in accordance with the 'Symbolic Play Scale' (Westby. 1991). Results indicated that the toddlers exhibited symbolic play more frequently and at more complex levels when engaged in play with older, preschool-aged peers than when playing with their same-age peers. These findings suggest that the practice of mixed-age grouping is beneficial for the younger children's emerging symbolic play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of early childhood education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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