To share or not to share : a case study of six Chinese immigrant children’s sharing behaviors during social pretend play in a US preschool classroom
Guided by Vygotsky’s and Corsaro’s theories, this dissertation investigated Chinese immigrant children’s sharing behaviors, including initiating sharing behaviors and responding to sharing requests, as well as their parents’ and teachers’ descriptions of the children’s sharing behaviors. Six Chinese immigrant children along with 16 non-Chinese children aged three to five years old were observed and recorded in a preschool classroom and analyzed to understand their sharing behaviors. Classroom teachers and Chinese immigrant parents were interviewed to ascertain their views about Chinese immigrant children’s sharing behaviors. Data from the video and audio transcriptions, together with field notes and the researcher’s reflection journal, were coded and analyzed. Findings indicated that the six Chinese immigrant children verbally requested sharing to initiate sharing behaviors by verbally inviting peers to join an activity or verbally offering to share materials. They nonverbally initiated sharing by using the same materials with others and by passing or handing materials to their peers. When responding to sharing requests, the six Chinese immigrant children accepted the requests verbally or nonverbally. They also rejected the sharing requests or ignored them if they didn’t want to share. When rejection and conflicts in terms of sharing were encountered in social pretend play, the six Chinese immigrant children sometimes accepted rejections by abandoning the sharing intentions, doing something else, or turning to follow the playmates’ commands, and they shared passively to avoid conflicts. The Chinese immigrant parents in this study urged sharing and encouraged their children to search for adults’ help when they encountered conflicts with peers. Teachers noticed language barriers among the six Chinese immigrant children and how this obstacle influenced their social interactions. In addition, gender differences existed in the children’s sharing behaviors. The six Chinese immigrant children spoke in Chinese during their social pretend play. Their language preference and capability influenced their sharing behaviors. They tended to share ideas and knowledge in Mandarin with other Chinese children. English inferiority led to infrequent interactions with American children and limited their sharing opportunities. Findings suggested that early childhood educators and parents need to pay more attention to children’s sharing behaviors. Providing more support and encouraging the Chinese immigrant children to speak up for themselves could help these children better deal with conflicts in terms of sharing. Recommendations for future research are described in the dissertation.