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Pre-K Teachers View Black Students' Pretend Play Negatively

Preschool teachers view black children's pretend play negatively, yet they view similar types of creative expressions among white and Hispanic children positively, a recently published study asserts.

In fact, educators linked the "make-believe" play of blacks to being less prepared for school and less accepted by peers, and see it as related to teacher-child conflict, wrote researchers Tuppett M. Yates, an associate psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, and Ana K. Marcelo, a graduate student at that university, in their study "Through Race-colored Glasses: Preschoolers' Pretend Play and Teachers' Ratings of Preschooler Adjustment," which was published in the January edition of the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

At the same time, teachers did not perceive one race as being better than another, the study stated.

That being said, the conclusions "warrant immediate attention, particularly given the likelihood that these biases will have significant developmental ramifications over the long-term," the authors wrote.

The researchers examined how 171 black, white, and Hispanic preschoolers living in Southern California used pretend play and their teachers' reactions to it using laboratory observations and questionnaires which were mailed to educators, the report states.

The preschoolers attended 47 different schools and were in classes with 93 different teachers.

While all races of children used their imaginations to "make-believe" in similar ways, "black children with imaginative and expressive pretend play skills were evaluated negatively whereas non-black children with similar play skills were evaluated positively," the study states.

Pretend play is considered the "leading activity" of the preschool period, the study's authors wrote, and continues to be a "powerful mechanism of and context for child development."

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