Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    A study of the social and play interactions of kindergarten children from long day care and home care backgrounds
    Fergusson, Robyn A. ( 1999)
    Some kindergarten teachers have expressed concern that a combination of regular attendance at both kindergarten and day care programs has a disruptive effect on four year old children. They report a higher incidence of non-compliance and aggressive behaviour in children who move between child care and kindergarten programs on a regular basis. Many kindergarten teachers question whether dual attendance really meets the needs of children or whether it puts them under undue stress, resulting in high levels of disruptive behaviour. This study compared the behaviours of ten children who regularly attended both kindergarten and long day care programs ('day care' children) and ten children who only attended a sessional kindergarten for a half day program and were cared for by their parents for the rest of the day ('home care' children). The behaviour of these children was observed during free play time in the kindergarten program, using a variety of formal and informal observational techniques. These observational techniques included Parten's scale of social participation and a modified version of the Piagetian Smilansky scale which measures social and cognitive dimensions of socio-dramatic play behaviours. Non-compliance and aggressive acts were also recorded as were the play themes in the dramatic play. The data is supported by field notes taken during the observations. Data was analysed after each observation session throughout the research using the coding scales and the field notes. Further data was gathered via interviews with some kindergarten teachers in the community about their perceptions of the behaviour of the children who attend both day care and kindergarten. Interviews were also held with the kindergarten teachers and child care workers who implemented the programs which the study children attended. The results of the study indicated that there is a general perception amongst kindergarten teachers that the 'day care' children do not assimilate well into the kindergarten setting; that they are rougher and more aggressive in their play and are less compliant. This was not the case for the 'day care' children in this study. In regard to these children, there was almost no evidence of aggressive acts; the children were generally compliant and were co-operative during routines. The 'day care' children did mix with 'home care' children attending the centre; yet the 'home care' children tended to make fewer social contacts with the 'day care' children. There was variation in the types of play in which 'day care' and 'home care' children engaged. 'Home care' children spent considerably more time engaged in non play than the children who attended kindergarten and day care. The play of 'home care' children was mostly constructive, solitary or parallel play; while the play of 'day care' children consisted mainly of associative and cooperative dramatic play. It was found that the variation between the amount of dramatic play between the two groups was significant.