Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Preschool children-Psychology, Child development-Testing, Play assessment (Child psychology), Imagination in children-Psychological aspects, Pretend play, Early childhood, Cognitive skills, Linguistic


There is substantial research to support the positive correlation between pretend play and cognitive, language and social skills development in early childhood. Most of this research has explored bivariate relationships. We know little about how these variables might co-vary in the same sample. This exploratory study was based on secondary analysis of developmental screening data for a preschool program in Connecticut. The sample was comprised of 79 three and four year-olds. Proxies for pretend play and cognitive, language and social skills development were operationalized from a standardized instrument, Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning (DIAL) and a Social Skills Checklist that was developed by professional staff at the program. The findings of the research showed a strong positive correlation between pretend play and social skills development; and language skills and cognitive skills. There was no significant relationship between pretend play and cognitive or linguistic skill development. Positive correlations were consistent with prior research. They also tended to support Vygotsky's social theory of cognitive development versus Piaget's linear model.




iii, 57 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 45-50)