Playing While Black

Teachers interpret pretend play among black preschoolers as problematic, new study says

By Carla Murphy Mar 24, 2014

By now, much of the country has heard of last Friday’s Department of Education data that black preschoolers are more likely to be suspended than white preschoolers. (Yes, 4- and 5-year-olds face suspension, too) The data didn’t get at why but one new study fills in some of the gap. It suggests that a child’s race influences how teachers evaluate child’s play. The research in Early Childhood Research Quarterly looks at 171 Southern California preschoolers, evaluated mainly by Hispanic and white female teachers, and finds that:

"Among Black preschoolers, imaginative and expressive pretend play features were associated with teachers’ ratings of less school preparedness, less peer acceptance, and more teacher-child con?ict, whereas comparable levels of imagination and affect in pretend play were related to positive ratings on these same measures for non-Black children."

Suspicious behavior of blacks, it appears, begins even at age four. Check out study findings and limitations (i.e., observations took place in a child-friendly laboratory setting and not in classrooms)*.

(h/t Pacific Standard)

*Post has been updated.