Date of Conferral
In the United States, early childhood educators are expected to follow the trend to enforce academic curriculum for preschoolers. This effort diminishes the value of play in the young developmental years of children. The purpose of this study was to explore the type of activities and strategies that promote development of language and literacy skills of preschool children while playing in a dramatic play center. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory teaches that children acquire skills through play and discovery in a developmentally appropriate environment. The study was conducted within a qualitative framework using a case study approach. How parents and teachers encourage and support the development of literacy skills in preschoolers during play were explored. The participants in this single site case study were 10 young children attending a university campus preschool, their parents, and their teacher. Data were collected through observations of the children and interviews with the parents and the preschool teacher. Video transcripts and field notes were analyzed to understand the data collected. Coding was implemented to understand the patterns and themes that emerged from the collected data. Modeling, asking questions, props, and books were identified activities and strategies that supported oral language development and literacy skills in young children during dramatic play. The parents and the preschool teacher encouraged and supported the development of oral language and literacy skills through providing opportunities through play for children to build vocabulary by expressing themselves and understanding others. Varied experiences with an assortment of props and books were identified as supporting children's development. This study recommends and extends the understanding that play in dramatic play centers in preschools can support the development of oral language and literacy skills which could create positive social change in early childhood education programs.