Leaders and Followers during Sociodramatic Play: A Study of Racial/Ethnic Minority Preschool Children from Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Backgrounds

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Sociodramatic play is considered a critical context within which child leaders and followers may naturally emerge, while their cognitive abilities (e.g., theory of mind) and social competence are developed and applied. This study investigated child leadership and followership during sociodramatic play among 20 racial/ethnic minority 3- and 4-year-olds (70% of whom Spanish-speaking), all from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, in two mixed-age and mixed-gender preschool classrooms. Ten videotaped observations of these children during sociodramatic play were transcribed and analyzed. The findings revealed that the four most prominent leaders were all girls in the older group of 4-year-olds. They were also more cognitively, socially, and linguistically advanced than their peers. Except for one leader who could be characterized as a dominator, the other three as directors, sharing similar leadership characteristics. The four most prominent followers (two boys and two girls) could be characterized as complaisant conformists. Contrary to findings of previous studies, when playing with peers from similar backgrounds, socioeconomically disadvantaged children were capable of participating in sociodramatic play and exhibiting various effectiveness in leadership and followership, reflecting potentially their developmental characteristics, physical ecology, language abilities, social experiences, and theory of mind.

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Journal of Research in Childhood Education

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