This systematic review and meta-analysis considered evidence of guided play compared to direct instruction or free play to support children's learning and development.
Interventions from 39 studies were reviewed (published 1977-2020); 17 were included in meta-analysis (Ntotal = 3893; Mchildage = 1-8 years; Mgirls 49.8%; Methnicity White 41%, African American/Black 28%, Hispanic 19%). Guided play had a greater positive effect than direct instruction on early maths skills (g = 0.24), shape knowledge (g = 0.63), and task switching (g = 0.40); and than free play on spatial vocabulary (g = 0.93).
Differences were not identified for other key outcomes. Narrative synthesis highlighted heterogeneity in the conceptualization and implementation of guided play across studies. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
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