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Research Article
Issue Date: May 01, 2014
Published Online: April 29, 2014
Updated: January 01, 2019
Development, Reliability, and Validity of the My Child’s Play (MCP) Questionnaire
Author Affiliations
  • Eleanor Schneider, PhD, OT (C), is Senior Occupational Therapist, Hannah Khoushy Child Development Center, Bnai Zion Medical Center, and Lecturer (retired), Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel; 49 Yakinton Street, Haifa 3479288, Israel; eleanor@research.haifa.ac.il
  • Sara Rosenblum, PhD, OT (I), is Head, Laboratory of Complex Human Activity and Participation (CHAP), and Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
Article Information
Assessment Development and Testing / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / School-Based Practice / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   May 01, 2014
Development, Reliability, and Validity of the My Child’s Play (MCP) Questionnaire
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May/June 2014, Vol. 68, 277-285. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.009159
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May/June 2014, Vol. 68, 277-285. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.009159
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. This article describes the development, reliability, and validity of My Child’s Play (MCP), a parent questionnaire designed to evaluate the play of children ages 3–9 yr.

METHOD. The first phase of the study determined the questionnaire’s content and face validity. Subsequently, the internal reliability consistency and construct and concurrent validity were demonstrated using 334 completed questionnaires.

RESULTS. The MCP showed good internal consistency (α = .86). The factor analysis revealed four distinct factors with acceptable levels of internal reliability (Cronbach’s αs = .63–.81) and gender- and age-related differences in play characteristics; both findings attest to the tool’s construct validity. Significant correlations (r = .33, p < .0001) with the Parent as a Teacher Inventory demonstrate the MCP’s concurrent validity.

CONCLUSION. The MCP demonstrated acceptable reliability and validity. It appears to be a promising standardized assessment tool for use in research and practice to promote understanding of a child’s play.

Play is considered the primary occupation of childhood (Case-Smith & Kuhaneck, 2008; Welters-Davis & Lawson, 2011) and the natural context within which children develop complex social behaviors and competence (Wilkes, Cordier, Bundy, Docking, & Munro, 2011). Through play experiences, children develop many skills in the motor, perceptual, language, cognitive, and emotional domains (e.g., Rigby & Rodger, 2006; Uren & Stagnitti, 2009). Play influences not only the child’s development but also parent–child interaction (Ginsburg, 2007). Thus, play can provide valuable information about a child’s functional abilities, skills, and cognitive, motor, and social competencies (World Health Organization, 2001).
The transactional nature of play and the degree of fit between the person, the environment or context in which the play occurs, and the characteristics of the play activity are of major importance in enabling optimal engagement in play experiences (Law et al., 1996; Rigby & Rodger, 2006). Children’s ability to play is influenced by their interest and skill in the different domains of function (e.g., sensory–motor, cognitive), the potential barriers and supports in their environment, and the challenges of any given activity (Rigby & Huggins, 2003). Among environmental factors, the role of parents in creating and fostering the play environment is crucial. Parents ultimately are responsible for determining and shaping the environmental context for their child’s play experiences by providing opportunities for play, toys, and play partners (Bundy et al., 2011). Occupational therapy practitioners use parents’ knowledge of their child gleaned through observation and interaction to assess and learn about the child’s play. A standardized tool would assist in reaching this goal in a practical and professional way.
According to Mulligan (2003), in evaluating a child’s play, occupational therapy practitioners must identify and document what the child’s play preferences are, how the child uses play materials, the child’s social behaviors during play interactions, and the emotional and psychosocial manifestations of play. A consensus seems to exist that play is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon of major importance (Power, 2000). However, as Bundy (2005)  concluded in her review of measures of play performance, no batteries of play scales are available to enable an in-depth evaluation. Evaluations of play in occupational therapy are traditionally based on observations of play behaviors using play scales administered in different settings, with the emphasis on assessing children at play in their natural environment.
In recent years increased attempts have been made to develop reliable and valid play assessments to enable professionals to examine and identify the play characteristics of children in various treatment populations. Examples of such assessments are the Test of Playfulness (Skard & Bundy, 2008); Test of Environmental Supportiveness (Skard & Bundy, 2008); Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment (Swindells & Stagnitti, 2006); and Revised Knox Preschool Play Scale (Knox, 2008). Through both observing play and conducting interviews with the family, practitioners can obtain relevant information about the child that will be useful in formulating successful occupational therapy interventions (Burke, Schaaf, & Hall, 2008). Conducting a narrative interview enables the practitioner and parents to collaborate to discover the meaning of the child’s play (Bryze, 2008). For example, the Play History (Takata, 1974) includes an interview as part of the assessment of the child’s current play abilities, materials, actions, people, and settings, as well as his or her past play experiences.
Development of reliable, valid, appropriate, and culturally sensitive evaluation tools that relate to parental perceptions and beliefs is important in furthering occupational therapy practitioners’ knowledge and understanding of a child’s play. We created a questionnaire, My Child’s Play (MCP), to fill a gap and answer the need for a practical parent questionnaire that can provide comprehensive information on the play of children ages 3–9 yr. We developed the tool to reflect the Person–Environment–Occupation Model, which describes the dynamic relationship between people, their occupations and roles, and the environments in which they live, work, and play, with occupational performance being the outcome of the transaction among these three elements (Law et al., 1996).
The MCP questionnaire includes items that provide in-depth information about a child’s play in terms of the concepts of person, environment, and occupation. The person concept is reflected in items related to three subcategories: the child’s sensory–motor abilities, executive functions, and interpersonal relationships. The environment concept includes two subcategories related to (1) the physical environment and (2) the human context and parental attitudes. The concept of occupation includes the child’s play preferences and choices as well as likes and dislikes.
This article describes the development process of the MCP questionnaire and examines its internal reliability and validity among typically developing children. The research question guiding this study was, What reliability and validity evidence supports use of the MCP questionnaire?
Method
Design
The study was conducted in four phases. Phase 1 included test construction and examination of content and face validity. Once we received permission from the Ethical Committee of the University of Haifa, we completed Phases 2–4 of tool development, which involved preliminary determination of the questionnaire’s reliability and validity with participants recruited by research assistants. The sample of convenience was drawn from community settings in northern Israel and through personal contacts. Data were collected over 6 mo.
Participants
The mothers of 334 Israeli children ages 3–9 yr completed the MCP questionnaire at home. The mothers represented a variety of cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, including Jewish (n = 184, 55.1%), Muslim (n = 96, 28.7%), Christian (n = 13, 3.9%), and Druze (n = 39, 11.7%). The mothers’ ages ranged from 21 to 58 yr (mean [M] = 34.55, standard deviation [SD] = 0.57), their years of education ranged from 7 to 23 (M = 14.93, SD = 2.57), and 71.6% (n = 239) were middle class. Of the children, 53.0% were boys (n = 177) and 47.0% (n = 157) were girls. The children’s mean age was 65 mo (SD = 19.50). Regarding birth order, 43.4% (n = 145) were the oldest child, 35.6% (n = 119) were the youngest, and 21.0% (n = 70) were in the middle; 29 children (8.7%) were only children and were included in the first-born group. Inclusion criteria were provision of parental consent and lack of identified developmental, neurological, or physical impairments or disabilities.
Phase 1: Test Construction and Content Validity
The MCP questionnaire was originally developed in Hebrew and underwent a standardized translation process into English and Arabic. The construction phase began with the selection of questionnaire items based on three main sources: (1) play as a construct in occupational therapy theoretical models (e.g., Law et al., 1996); (2) current research on play among preschool and young school-age children (e.g., Burke et al., 2008; Case-Smith & Kuhaneck, 2008; Rigby & Rodger, 2006); and (3) a review of available tools for evaluation of children’s play (e.g., Asher, 2007; Bundy, 2005; Mulligan, 2003). These three sources were augmented by a fourth source—the first author’s (Schneider's) knowledge gleaned from rich clinical experience with the preschool population and intensive collaboration with parents. Many of the items reflect child behaviors observed during intervention and parent comments related to the child’s behavior in the natural environment.
These sources provided the foundation for 62 questionnaire items that were reviewed by 10 expert pediatric occupational therapists and 5 parents to determine if they adequately reflect the prescribed objectives of the instrument, consistent with the establishment of content and face validity as described by Benson and Clark (1982) . The therapists were asked whether the items adequately reflected the prescribed objectives of the instrument and whether the items were clearly worded. The item was considered suitable if 8 of the 10 experts agreed it was relevant. After receiving feedback from the therapists and parents, we deleted 14 items, improved the wording of some items, and added two new items. The second draft of the MCP, which included 50 items, was resubmitted to five expert pediatric occupational therapists, who were asked to judge whether each item was relevant and clear. Following the additional feedback, minor revisions were made to the wording of five items.
The final 50-item version was administered to the 334 mothers in this study. For each item, parents are asked to indicate the response that best describes their child’s play behavior on a 5-point Likert scale from 1 = never to 5 = always. Respondents are also given the option to characterize an item as not relevant for a specific child. For 19 items, a higher score reflects negative characteristics; these items are recoded for scoring as 1 = always to 5 = never. Thus, higher total scores reflect better performance.
Phase 2: Internal Consistency Reliability
Internal consistency of the MCP was analyzed to examine whether several items that propose to measure the same general construct produce similar scores. Internal consistency was established through two different analytical approaches: (1) Cronbach’s α coefficient, with .70 stipulated as an acceptable level, and (2) correlation between total questionnaire scores and individual item scores for each questionnaire.
Phase 3: Construct Validity
Factor Analysis.
Factor analysis is used to determine whether the underlying factors of a multivariate data set also reflect the underlying constructs of an assessment (Altman, 1991). In the current study, principal factor extraction with varimax rotation was performed to assist in determining the domains of the questionnaire as demonstrated by the data. This analysis enabled a comparison of the categories that emerged from the analyses with the original three theoretical–conceptual categories (person, environment, and occupation). In addition to factor analysis, the construct validity of the questionnaires was examined by determining the ability of the questionnaires to distinguish between boys and girls and between younger and older children.
Gender Differences.
The sample comprised 177 boys and 157 girls. Normal distribution was examined for the total score and the four MCP categories. Preanalysis was performed to negate significant differences between groups (boys and girls) related to age. A t test was conducted to analyze group differences in the MCP final score. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) with group membership serving as the independent variable was used to examine group differences across the four MCP categories found in the factor analysis.
Age Differences.
The sample was divided into two age groups. The younger group included 214 children ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. The older group included 120 children ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. Normal distribution was examined for the total score and the four MCP categories. A t test was conducted to analyze group differences on the MCP final score. A MANOVA with group membership serving as the independent variable was used to examine group differences across the four MCP categories found in the factor analysis.
Phase 4: Concurrent Validity
Concurrent validity indicates whether the MCP correlates well with a previously validated measure. We compared results on the 334 MCP questionnaires with those on the Parent as a Teacher (PAAT) Inventory (Strom, 1984).
The PAAT consists of 50 items that measure the attitudes of parents of children ages 3–9 yr. Five aspects of parent–child interaction are included, each consisting of 10 items: (1) creativity, (2) frustration, (3) control, (4) play, and (5) teaching/learning. The α coefficient for total PAAT score is .80, indicating acceptable internal consistency (Strom & Slaughter, 1978). The validity of the PAAT was demonstrated by using the expressed versus observed behavior method with 75%–85% levels of consonance between the measures (Panetta, 1980). The PAAT has been used extensively in cross-cultural research. Because the focus of the present study was on play characteristics, we administered only the 10 items on the PAAT play scale and analyzed the correlations between the two instruments using Pearson correlations.
Results
Phase 2: Internal Consistency Reliability
Results obtained from the 334 MCP questionnaires indicated an α of .864, well above the level of acceptability. Moreover, significant correlations (r = .22–.53, p < .001) were found between the 50 individual items of the MCP and the total questionnaire score.
Phase 3: Construct Validity
Factor Analysis.
The initial analysis was performed by predefining three factors on the basis of the MCP questionnaire’s theoretical background (i.e., person, environment, and occupation). The three factors explained 25% of the total variance. Analysis of the MCP questionnaire without predefining the number of factors revealed four distinct factors with eigenvalues >1.0: (1) Executive Functions (organization, concentration, attention control and persistence, sense of self-control; 18 items); (2) Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation (10 items); (3) Play Choices and Preferences (13 items); and (4) Opportunities in the Environment (5 items; see Table 1). The four principal factors were found to explain 30% of the total variance. Details for each of the factors and internal consistency reliability are presented in Table 1 (items are abbreviated in the table).
Table 1.
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire×
Item No.ItemFactor 1: Executive FunctionsFactor 2: Interpersonal RelationshipsFactor 3: Play Choices and PreferencesFactor 4: Opportunities in the Environment
1Child plays with toys according to intended use.
2Child varies play with toys..52
3Child loses interest in toy..52
4Child uses same hand consistently in playing.
5Child imitates movements..35
6Child uses both hands to play.
7Child has difficulty concentrating with background noise..43
8Child bumps into or drops things during play..46
9Child persists at play even when having difficulty..52
10Child tries to problem solve by him- or herself during play..38
11Child can’t get organized for play without adult help..56
12Child needs adult help to stay focused on play..58
13Child adapts easily to changes in play conditions..41
14Child adapts easily to new adults or children..67
15Child copes with frustrating situations during play..51
16Child relates to other children during play..69
17Child plays with kids according to the rules..56
18Child is able to initiate play..64
19Child takes on role of group leader during play..72
20Child is willing to share toys with others..52
21Child adapts play behavior to setting..40
22Child controls impulses during play with others..38
23Child needs adult help to join group of children playing..47
24Child prefers to play only with familiar toys..50
25Child avoids play that requires fine motor movements..46
26Child finds opportunity to play everywhere..49
27Child persists at play only when interested.36
28Child avoids play that requires movement..32
29Child enjoys imaginative play..44
30Child needs lots of breaks to stay attentive..52
31Child loses interest when playing by him- or herself..42
32Child prefers play with adults over children.
33Child avoids activities like drawing or coloring..47
34Child doesn’t play games that have rules..56
35Child prefers toys or materials with different textures..46
36Child purposely bumps into objects or surfaces..38
37Child avoids play activities requiring physical effort..32
38There is accessible space outside house for play..54
39There is accessible space inside house for play..70
40Child has difficulty playing with too many visual stimuli..43
41Child has enough toys for varied enjoyable play..55
42Toys at home are organized for easy access..67
43I feel child should play with non-gender-specific toys..36
44Child has opportunity to play with other children..45
45I consider my child’s play preferences..33
46I offer help after child tries playing alone..36
47I model play according to child’s abilities..31
48I define rules clearly so child can play enjoyably..34
49Daily routine includes time for play with child..45
50I’m pleased with the way my child plays..39
 Eigenvalue7.722.622.442.27
 % of variance9.849.056.364.84
 Internal consistency (α).80.81.67.63
Table Footer NoteNote. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.
Note. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.×
Table 1.
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire×
Item No.ItemFactor 1: Executive FunctionsFactor 2: Interpersonal RelationshipsFactor 3: Play Choices and PreferencesFactor 4: Opportunities in the Environment
1Child plays with toys according to intended use.
2Child varies play with toys..52
3Child loses interest in toy..52
4Child uses same hand consistently in playing.
5Child imitates movements..35
6Child uses both hands to play.
7Child has difficulty concentrating with background noise..43
8Child bumps into or drops things during play..46
9Child persists at play even when having difficulty..52
10Child tries to problem solve by him- or herself during play..38
11Child can’t get organized for play without adult help..56
12Child needs adult help to stay focused on play..58
13Child adapts easily to changes in play conditions..41
14Child adapts easily to new adults or children..67
15Child copes with frustrating situations during play..51
16Child relates to other children during play..69
17Child plays with kids according to the rules..56
18Child is able to initiate play..64
19Child takes on role of group leader during play..72
20Child is willing to share toys with others..52
21Child adapts play behavior to setting..40
22Child controls impulses during play with others..38
23Child needs adult help to join group of children playing..47
24Child prefers to play only with familiar toys..50
25Child avoids play that requires fine motor movements..46
26Child finds opportunity to play everywhere..49
27Child persists at play only when interested.36
28Child avoids play that requires movement..32
29Child enjoys imaginative play..44
30Child needs lots of breaks to stay attentive..52
31Child loses interest when playing by him- or herself..42
32Child prefers play with adults over children.
33Child avoids activities like drawing or coloring..47
34Child doesn’t play games that have rules..56
35Child prefers toys or materials with different textures..46
36Child purposely bumps into objects or surfaces..38
37Child avoids play activities requiring physical effort..32
38There is accessible space outside house for play..54
39There is accessible space inside house for play..70
40Child has difficulty playing with too many visual stimuli..43
41Child has enough toys for varied enjoyable play..55
42Toys at home are organized for easy access..67
43I feel child should play with non-gender-specific toys..36
44Child has opportunity to play with other children..45
45I consider my child’s play preferences..33
46I offer help after child tries playing alone..36
47I model play according to child’s abilities..31
48I define rules clearly so child can play enjoyably..34
49Daily routine includes time for play with child..45
50I’m pleased with the way my child plays..39
 Eigenvalue7.722.622.442.27
 % of variance9.849.056.364.84
 Internal consistency (α).80.81.67.63
Table Footer NoteNote. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.
Note. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.×
×
Gender Differences.
No significant differences were found for age in either group (boys, M = 64.82, SD = 19.03; girls, M = 65.18, SD = 20.08), t(332) = −0.17, p = .86. The distribution was normal for both boys and girls on the MCP total score and the categories Executive Functions, Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation, and Play Choices and Preferences. The category Opportunities in the Environment showed a slight negative skew. A significant difference was found between groups for the MCP final score (boys, M = 3.89, SD = 0.32; girls, M = 4.03, SD = 0.33), t(332) = −4.04, p < .001. MANOVA, used to examine group differences between boys and girls across the four MCP categories, yielded a significant result across the four categories, F(4, 334) = 6.05, Wilks’s λ = 0.93, p < .001, η2 = .69. Levene’s test showed equal variances. To examine the source of the significance, the data were subjected to univariate analyses of variance (ANOVAs). Girls received significantly higher scores than boys on the total score of the MCP and on three of the four categories: Executive Functions, Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation, and Play Choices and Preferences. No significant between-groups difference was found in the category Opportunities in the Environment (see Table 2).
Table 2.
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryBoys (n = 177) (M ± SD)Girls (n = 157) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.76 ± 0.443.90 ± 0.429.68.002.028
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.79 ± 0.523.93 ± 0.525.87.016.017
Play Choices and Preferences3.91 ± 0.414.11 ± 0.3920.16>.001.057
Opportunities in the Environment4.49 ± 0.494.51 ± 0.550.059NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
Table 2.
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryBoys (n = 177) (M ± SD)Girls (n = 157) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.76 ± 0.443.90 ± 0.429.68.002.028
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.79 ± 0.523.93 ± 0.525.87.016.017
Play Choices and Preferences3.91 ± 0.414.11 ± 0.3920.16>.001.057
Opportunities in the Environment4.49 ± 0.494.51 ± 0.550.059NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
×
Age Differences.
No significant differences between groups were found on the MCP final score (younger, M = 3.94, SD = 0.33; older, M = 3.98, SD = 0.33), t(323) = −0.82, p = .42. The distribution was normal for both boys and girls on the MCP final score and the categories Executive Functions, Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation, and Play Choices and Preferences. The category Opportunities in the Environment showed a slight negative skew. MANOVA was used to examine group differences between younger and older children across the four MCP categories and yielded a significant result across categories, F(4, 320) = 6.99, Wilks’s λ = 0.92, p < .001, η2 = .80. Levene’s test showed equal variances.
To examine the source of the significance, the data were subjected to univariate ANOVAs. The results, shown in Table 3, demonstrated significant differences between the groups in two of the four categories; although the younger children scored significantly lower than the older children in the category Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation, they scored significantly higher in the category Play Choices and Preferences. No significant differences were found between groups in the categories Executive Functions and Opportunities in the Environment.
Table 3.
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryYounger (n = 214) (M ± SD)Older (n = 120) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.79 ± 0.443.88 ± 0.432.59NSNS
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.81 ± 0.543.94 ± 0.474.57.033.014
Play Choices and Preferences4.05 ± 0.413.91 ± 0.428.54.004.026
Opportunities in the Environment4.47 ± 0.514.57 ± 0.443.35NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
Table 3.
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryYounger (n = 214) (M ± SD)Older (n = 120) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.79 ± 0.443.88 ± 0.432.59NSNS
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.81 ± 0.543.94 ± 0.474.57.033.014
Play Choices and Preferences4.05 ± 0.413.91 ± 0.428.54.004.026
Opportunities in the Environment4.47 ± 0.514.57 ± 0.443.35NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
×
Phase 4: Concurrent Validity
The internal consistency reliability of responses in the play category of the PAAT in the current study was .61. A significant correlation was found between PAAT play scale score and MCP total score (r = .33, p < .0001).
Discussion
This article describes the process of developing and establishing the reliability and validity of the MCP questionnaire, a practical, easy-to-use assessment that is suitable for self-administration by parents of children ages 3–9 yr. The results indicate that the psychometric qualities of the questionnaire are sound. The internal consistency reliability of the MCP was good, as revealed by the Cronbach’s α coefficients derived for the tool (e.g., α = .86 for total score, α = .80 for Executive Functions, α = .81 for Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation).
The results of the factor analysis demonstrated the MCP’s construct validity. The MCP was developed conceptually to reflect the Person–Environment–Occupation Model (Law et al., 1996), and the results attest to its consistency with this model. As originally conceived, two of the three subcategories in the person element were strongly identified in the factor analysis by two factors—Executive Functions and Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation. Interestingly, items conceived of as relating to the third original subcategory, sensory–motor abilities, loaded either on Executive Functions (e.g., Item 40—“My child feels overwhelmed in a setting with many visual stimuli [pictures, colors, toys] and has trouble playing”) or on Play Choices and Preferences (e.g., Item 25—“My child avoids play activities with toys and games that require fine hand movements [e.g., building blocks, put-together toys, stringing beads]”).
The environment element was identified in a third factor, Opportunities in the Environment, which included items related to the environmental context, both physical and human. Surprisingly, some of the items relating to parental preferences and attitudes, originally thought to be associated with the human environment element, loaded on Play Choices and Preferences. Although this phenomenon is not completely understood, it is possible that use of the words my and I in these items affected this result (e.g., Item 45, “In my opinion, it is important to consider the child’s wants and preferences when choosing toys and activities that are available to him/her”). The fourth identified factor, Play Choices and Preferences, relates to the element of occupation. It addresses the child’s preferred and avoided activities as well as likes and dislikes.
Thus, the results of factor analysis support the original concept of a parent-administered play questionnaire that reflects the Person–Environment–Occupation Model. Moreover, the results demonstrate how children’s abilities and preferences in varied domains, such as sensory–motor skills, executive functions, interpersonal relationships, and the environmental context, affect the child’s play scores.
To further establish the construct validity of the tool, a known groups comparison technique was used to determine whether the MCP questionnaire can distinguish between groups according to gender and age. Results of t-test analysis revealed significant differences between boys and girls in scores on the MCP, consistent with research showing that gender differences in children’s play are a known phenomenon (e.g., Case-Smith & Kuhaneck, 2008; De Caroli & Sagone, 2007).
Children have been found to be aware of gender stereotypes for games and toys from an early age (i.e., Cherney & London, 2006) and to demonstrate gender-typed play preferences (Case-Smith & Kuhaneck, 2008; De Caroli & Sagone, 2007). The results of the current research are consistent with prior research on this topic; as a group, girls received significantly higher scores than boys on the total score and on three of the four categories. In the category Executive Functions, girls were perceived as showing significantly better attention, organization, self-control, and persistence than boys; this finding is in accordance with studies indicating that girls perform better in executive functions such as inhibitory control and selective attention (Böhm, Smedler, & Forssberg, 2004; Carlson & Moses, 2001; Klenberg, Korkman, & Lahti-Nuuttila, 2001). In the Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation category, girls showed significantly better ability in adapting to people and situations, in interacting with other children and in taking initiative and providing leadership than their male counterparts. Similar to the current research findings, Salonius-Pasternak (2005)  found that compared with boys, girls like games with in-depth social interactions and character development. Burgess, Wojslawowicz, Rubin, Rose-Krasnor, and Booth-LaForce (2006)  found that girls are more sensitive to interpersonal stressors and generate more prosocial strategies to resolve peer conflicts than boys.
In the Play Choices and Preferences category, girls demonstrated significantly more variety in their play and less avoidance of play activities (e.g., fine motor activity, drawing). This finding is in line with another study supporting girls’ preference for engaging in creative play in contrast to boys’ preferences for active play (Kinzie & Joseph, 2008). No significant gender-related differences were found between groups in the category Opportunities in the Environment; the scores of both groups were equally high, indicating that the mothers of both boys and girls saw the importance of providing a safe and accessible play environment in the home.
Research has shown that age and related developmental changes are important variables affecting play choices and skills (Case-Smith & Kuhaneck, 2008). As demonstrated in Table 3, significant differences were found between the age groups in two of the four categories: (1) Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation and (2) Play Choices and Preferences.
For Play Choices and Preferences, younger children showed better ability than older children, with more varied play, less avoidance of play activities, and more success in imitating movements. These results accord with other research findings. Infants use object play to explore and learn about the world around them (Baranek et al., 2005; Scarlett, Nadeau, Salonius-Pasternak, & Ponte, 2005). Schneider (2009)  found that infants as young as age 10 mo show preferences for play experiences they find interesting, engaging, and challenging. Researchers characterize the preschool stage (ages 4–7 yr) as one play epoch in which dramatic role-playing, social role-playing, and realistic construction are preferred, whereas after age 7 yr, play preferences appear to change substantially to include rules and social play in the context of organized games (Parker, Rubin, Erath, Wojslawowicz, & Buskrir, 2006). In addition, the current research indicates that parents of younger children consider the child’s preferences in choosing toys and activities to a greater extent than parents of older children. Furthermore, as is to be expected, parents of the younger children in our study were found to allocate more time for play in their daily routine than parents of the older children.
In the category Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation, the older children received significantly higher scores than the younger children, indicating better ability to show leadership and initiative, adapt to people and situations, and form effective interactions with other children. These results are in accordance with research studies demonstrating an increase in social complexity during the preschool period (Parker et al., 2006). Furthermore, the period of middle to late childhood (ages 6–12 yr) has been characterized as one of great change and growth in interpersonal skills and in the context and quality of children’s peer relationships, with an increase in prosocial behavior toward peers (Fabes et al., 1999).
No significant differences were found between age groups in the category Opportunities in the Environment, which suggests that mothers of both younger and older children provide safe and accessible play environments for their children. Somewhat more surprising is that no significant differences were found between younger and older children in the category Executive Functions, which includes 18 items related to the child’s maintenance of interest and attention, self-control, and ability to solve problems and persist at play even when challenged. It is possible that because these items are not specific to a certain kind of play activity, they are less conducive to highlighting age differences. The ability of the MCP questionnaire to differentiate between groups on the basis of gender and age attests to the construct validity of the MCP tool.
Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research
The data collected for this study relate only to the perceptions of mothers regarding characteristics of their children’s play; future research should also examine the perceptions of fathers. Scores on the MCP questionnaire represent parental perceptions and do not include observational or concurrent assessment data to validate the children’s actual play experiences, an important area for future study. Our participants were predominantly middle class and from northern Israel; additional data should be collected from other socioeconomic strata and geographic areas of the country. A significant correlation was found between PAAT final scores on the play scale and MCP total scores (r = .33, p < .0001), attesting to concurrent validity. However, this finding is problematic in that the internal consistency reliability of the PAAT in the current study was α = .61, which is relatively low. If appropriate tools are found, additional studies should be conducted to further establish concurrent validity of the MCP.
Further studies are required to validate the use of the MCP with children from varied cultural backgrounds and with special needs. Additional studies are also required to analyze and establish the MCP’s test–retest and interrater reliability to broaden the use of the MCP in varied academic and clinical settings.
Implications for Occupational Therapy Practice
The results of this study have the following implications for occupational therapy practice:
  • Development of appropriate, culturally sensitive evaluation tools that relate to parental perceptions and beliefs is important to further knowledge and understanding of the factors that characterize a child’s play.

  • Analyses of the tool’s reliability and validity suggest that the MCP questionnaire is a promising standardized tool that can enable occupational therapy practitioners to conduct appropriate, accurate, and effective assessment of play and determine the need for intervention to address the occupation of play.

  • Mothers who completed the questionnaire reported that the MCP was clear and effective and increased their insight into and awareness of their child’s play.

  • The parent reports of typically developing children from this study provide preliminary baseline data for further investigation with parents of similar backgrounds who have children with special needs.

Acknowledgments
We acknowledge the contribution of the research assistants in data collection and of Sandra Zuckerman in data analysis. Special thanks to the mothers of the children for their cooperation and participation.
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Table 1.
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire×
Item No.ItemFactor 1: Executive FunctionsFactor 2: Interpersonal RelationshipsFactor 3: Play Choices and PreferencesFactor 4: Opportunities in the Environment
1Child plays with toys according to intended use.
2Child varies play with toys..52
3Child loses interest in toy..52
4Child uses same hand consistently in playing.
5Child imitates movements..35
6Child uses both hands to play.
7Child has difficulty concentrating with background noise..43
8Child bumps into or drops things during play..46
9Child persists at play even when having difficulty..52
10Child tries to problem solve by him- or herself during play..38
11Child can’t get organized for play without adult help..56
12Child needs adult help to stay focused on play..58
13Child adapts easily to changes in play conditions..41
14Child adapts easily to new adults or children..67
15Child copes with frustrating situations during play..51
16Child relates to other children during play..69
17Child plays with kids according to the rules..56
18Child is able to initiate play..64
19Child takes on role of group leader during play..72
20Child is willing to share toys with others..52
21Child adapts play behavior to setting..40
22Child controls impulses during play with others..38
23Child needs adult help to join group of children playing..47
24Child prefers to play only with familiar toys..50
25Child avoids play that requires fine motor movements..46
26Child finds opportunity to play everywhere..49
27Child persists at play only when interested.36
28Child avoids play that requires movement..32
29Child enjoys imaginative play..44
30Child needs lots of breaks to stay attentive..52
31Child loses interest when playing by him- or herself..42
32Child prefers play with adults over children.
33Child avoids activities like drawing or coloring..47
34Child doesn’t play games that have rules..56
35Child prefers toys or materials with different textures..46
36Child purposely bumps into objects or surfaces..38
37Child avoids play activities requiring physical effort..32
38There is accessible space outside house for play..54
39There is accessible space inside house for play..70
40Child has difficulty playing with too many visual stimuli..43
41Child has enough toys for varied enjoyable play..55
42Toys at home are organized for easy access..67
43I feel child should play with non-gender-specific toys..36
44Child has opportunity to play with other children..45
45I consider my child’s play preferences..33
46I offer help after child tries playing alone..36
47I model play according to child’s abilities..31
48I define rules clearly so child can play enjoyably..34
49Daily routine includes time for play with child..45
50I’m pleased with the way my child plays..39
 Eigenvalue7.722.622.442.27
 % of variance9.849.056.364.84
 Internal consistency (α).80.81.67.63
Table Footer NoteNote. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.
Note. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.×
Table 1.
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire
Factor Loadings for the 50 Items of the My Child’s Play Questionnaire×
Item No.ItemFactor 1: Executive FunctionsFactor 2: Interpersonal RelationshipsFactor 3: Play Choices and PreferencesFactor 4: Opportunities in the Environment
1Child plays with toys according to intended use.
2Child varies play with toys..52
3Child loses interest in toy..52
4Child uses same hand consistently in playing.
5Child imitates movements..35
6Child uses both hands to play.
7Child has difficulty concentrating with background noise..43
8Child bumps into or drops things during play..46
9Child persists at play even when having difficulty..52
10Child tries to problem solve by him- or herself during play..38
11Child can’t get organized for play without adult help..56
12Child needs adult help to stay focused on play..58
13Child adapts easily to changes in play conditions..41
14Child adapts easily to new adults or children..67
15Child copes with frustrating situations during play..51
16Child relates to other children during play..69
17Child plays with kids according to the rules..56
18Child is able to initiate play..64
19Child takes on role of group leader during play..72
20Child is willing to share toys with others..52
21Child adapts play behavior to setting..40
22Child controls impulses during play with others..38
23Child needs adult help to join group of children playing..47
24Child prefers to play only with familiar toys..50
25Child avoids play that requires fine motor movements..46
26Child finds opportunity to play everywhere..49
27Child persists at play only when interested.36
28Child avoids play that requires movement..32
29Child enjoys imaginative play..44
30Child needs lots of breaks to stay attentive..52
31Child loses interest when playing by him- or herself..42
32Child prefers play with adults over children.
33Child avoids activities like drawing or coloring..47
34Child doesn’t play games that have rules..56
35Child prefers toys or materials with different textures..46
36Child purposely bumps into objects or surfaces..38
37Child avoids play activities requiring physical effort..32
38There is accessible space outside house for play..54
39There is accessible space inside house for play..70
40Child has difficulty playing with too many visual stimuli..43
41Child has enough toys for varied enjoyable play..55
42Toys at home are organized for easy access..67
43I feel child should play with non-gender-specific toys..36
44Child has opportunity to play with other children..45
45I consider my child’s play preferences..33
46I offer help after child tries playing alone..36
47I model play according to child’s abilities..31
48I define rules clearly so child can play enjoyably..34
49Daily routine includes time for play with child..45
50I’m pleased with the way my child plays..39
 Eigenvalue7.722.622.442.27
 % of variance9.849.056.364.84
 Internal consistency (α).80.81.67.63
Table Footer NoteNote. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.
Note. Only values of ≥.30 are significant.×
×
Table 2.
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryBoys (n = 177) (M ± SD)Girls (n = 157) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.76 ± 0.443.90 ± 0.429.68.002.028
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.79 ± 0.523.93 ± 0.525.87.016.017
Play Choices and Preferences3.91 ± 0.414.11 ± 0.3920.16>.001.057
Opportunities in the Environment4.49 ± 0.494.51 ± 0.550.059NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
Table 2.
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Boys and Girls in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryBoys (n = 177) (M ± SD)Girls (n = 157) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.76 ± 0.443.90 ± 0.429.68.002.028
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.79 ± 0.523.93 ± 0.525.87.016.017
Play Choices and Preferences3.91 ± 0.414.11 ± 0.3920.16>.001.057
Opportunities in the Environment4.49 ± 0.494.51 ± 0.550.059NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
×
Table 3.
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryYounger (n = 214) (M ± SD)Older (n = 120) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.79 ± 0.443.88 ± 0.432.59NSNS
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.81 ± 0.543.94 ± 0.474.57.033.014
Play Choices and Preferences4.05 ± 0.413.91 ± 0.428.54.004.026
Opportunities in the Environment4.47 ± 0.514.57 ± 0.443.35NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
Table 3.
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories
Comparison of Scores for Younger and Older Children in the My Child’s Play Categories×
Factor CategoryYounger (n = 214) (M ± SD)Older (n = 120) (M ± SD)F(4, 334)pη2
Executive Functions3.79 ± 0.443.88 ± 0.432.59NSNS
Interpersonal Relationships and Social Participation3.81 ± 0.543.94 ± 0.474.57.033.014
Play Choices and Preferences4.05 ± 0.413.91 ± 0.428.54.004.026
Opportunities in the Environment4.47 ± 0.514.57 ± 0.443.35NSNS
Table Footer NoteNote. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.
Note. Younger children are those ages 3 yr, 0 mo, to 5 yr, 11 mo. Older children are those ages 6 yr, 0 mo, to 9 yr, 0 mo. M = mean; NS = not significant; SD = standard deviation.×
×