Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Lisa M. Lopez, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kathy L. Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John M. Ferron, Ph.D.


English proficiency, maternal depression, play disconnection, play disruption


Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States and have higher dropout rates compared to other groups. Moreover, problem behaviors are common in preschool classrooms, and the incidence of these problems is higher for children from low-income families. The purpose of this study was to understand Latino children's problem behaviors in the context of peer play interactions and identify those variables that influence such behavior. 265 five and six-year-old Spanish-speaking children (53.6% female) attending Head Start or kindergarten participated in the study. Additionally, 198 mothers and 78 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten lead teachers participated in the study. Child level data were gathered through the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale, Teacher (PIPPS-T), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (PPVT-4), and the Test de Vocabulario en Imágenes Peabody (TVIP). Maternal data were obtained from the Demographic Parent Interview, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Breve Inventario de Síntomas (BIS). Both correlations and the multilevel models showed play disconnection related negatively to the child’s English proficiency and positively to maternal depression. Results suggest that children with lower English proficiency tend to be more disconnected from their peers as compared to children with higher English proficiency. Similarly, mothers with higher levels of depression symptoms had children with higher levels of play disconnection (internalizing behaviors). The current findings are consistent with previous studies and relevant to both researchers and practitioners.