Toddlers' emerging symbolic play: A first-born advantage?

Helen S. Kowalski, Shirley R. Wyver, Grace Masselos, Philip De Lacey

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The influence of older peers on younger children's emerging symbolic play was examined for 24 young children in eight participating long-day child-care centres. Toddler participants (aged from 17 to 31 months) were observed and video-taped in three conditions in free play in the outdoor environment as follows: condition one, with their same-age peers; condition two, with their older, preschool-aged peers; and condition three, in a dyad situation with a familiar often 'self-chosen' preschool-aged peer. Fourteen of the participants were first-borns and 10 were later-borns. The toddlers' symbolic play was coded in the four dimensions of symbolic play ('decontextualization', 'thematic content', 'organization of themes', and 'self-other relationships') in accordance with Westby's (1991) 'Symbolic play scale'. First-born participants exhibited higher levels of symbolic play in all four dimensions as identified by Westby (1991) in mixed-age free play sessions. Additionally, in mixed-age free play, first-borns scored significantly higher in three dimensions in the most frequently occurring levels of symbolic play than did later-born participants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-400
    Number of pages12
    JournalEarly Child Development and Care
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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