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Peer play as a context for identifying profiles of children and examining rates of growth in academic readiness for children enrolled in Head Start

Research has shown that early interventions are most successful when they have a comprehensive focus that is individualized to children's needs. The present study employed a person-centered approach to identify profiles, or subgroups, of children displaying early patterns of peer play behaviors in an ethnically and linguistically diverse Head Start program, and examined the academic trajectories of these children during one school year. Four profile groups were identified, and analyses revealed that these profiles were invariant across ethnicity and dual language learner status. Most children were represented in a group who engaged in behaviors that facilitated peer interactions. These children had the highest academic skills across the preschool year. Interestingly, children in a profile characterized by a combination of play interaction skills and play disruption had the second highest academic skills throughout the year compared with children in a profile characterized by below-average play interaction skills but low disruptive behavior during play. A small number of children were represented in a profile characterized by low interactive, disconnected, and high disruptive behavior with peers and had the lowest academic skills throughout the year. The mean differences in academic skills across profiles of peer play behaviors remained the same across the year. These findings have implications for future research and educational practice surrounding the role of peer play in the Head Start classroom. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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