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Peer Play Interactions and Readiness to Learn: A Protective Influence for African American Preschool Children From Low-Income Households

Guided by a strengths-based resiliency framework, this article reviews a body of research on the positive influence of interactive peer play for African American preschool children from low-income households. This literature provides evidence for positive associations among interactive peer play experiences at home and in school, and childrens early childhood social and academic skills. It presents the development and validation of three distinct dimensions of interactive peer play with African American children attending Head Start. It reviews research examining associations between these 3 dimensions and childrens academic and social outcomes, as well as evidence-based interventions designed to foster interactive peer play for this population. It highlights challenges and directions for future research, with emphasis on the likely research needed to extend our understanding of interactive peer play experiences for Latino and Asian American children and the complex mechanisms through which positive peer interactions during early childhood may support childrens early learning and development.