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ERIC Number: ED567230
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 20
Guided versus Independent Play: Which Better Sustains Attention among Infants and Toddlers?
Gardner-Neblett, Nicole; Holochwost, Steven J.; Gallagher, Kathleen Cranley; Iruka, Iheoma U.; Odom, Samuel L.; Pungello, Elizabeth P.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Rapid development of sustained attention occurs during infancy and toddlerhood, as neurological maturation allows children to increasingly attend to objects and events in the environment (Ruff & Rothbart, 1996). Play experiences during this period can serve as a context during which children's ability to attend can provide an opportunity for learning and development. There is, however limited empirical evidence for how independent play and play guided by an adult may be differentially associated with children's sustained attention. The current study investigates how sustained attention among infants and toddlers differs during play activities guided by a teacher versus activities children engage on their own in the setting of a child care classroom. The investigation was guided by two research questions: (1) To what extent are guided play activities that teachers and children engage in together associated with greater levels of children's sustained attention compared to independent play activities in which children explore activities on their own; and (2) To what extent are there differences by children's age in the association between the type of activity and children's attention? The current study contributes to the understanding of how guide play and independent play activities are associated with sustained attention among infants and toddlers in a child care setting. While children can benefit from independent exploration, they may also benefit from engaging in one-on-one activities with a teacher, a possibility that may be most feasible in settings with low adult-child ratios. Tables and figures are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)