Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Early puzzle play: A predictor of preschoolers' spatial transformation skill.

Developmental Psychology - Vol 46, Iss 4
Individual differences in spatial skill emerge prior to kindergarten entry. However, little is known about the early experiences that may contribute to these differences. The current study examined the relation between children's early puzzle play and their spatial skill. Children and parents (n = 53) were observed at home for 90 min every 4 months (6 times) between 2 and 4 years of age (26 to 46 months). When children were 4 years 6 months old, they completed a spatial task involving mental transformations of 2-dimensional shapes. Children who were observed playing with puzzles performed better on this task than those who did not, controlling for parent education, income, and overall parent word types. Moreover, among those children who played with puzzles, frequency of puzzle play predicted performance on the spatial transformation task. Although the frequency of puzzle play did not differ for boys and girls, the quality of puzzle play (a composite of puzzle difficulty, parent engagement, and parent spatial language) was higher for boys than for girls. In addition, variation in puzzle play quality predicted performance on the spatial transformation task for girls but not for boys. Implications of these findings as well as future directions for research on the role of puzzle play in the development of spatial skill are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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