Assessment of play in preschool-age: a systematic review

Gabriela Rebelo, Valéria Sousa-Gomes, Diana Moreira, Marisalva Fávero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The construct of play lacks a universal and consensual definition, due to its inherent complexity. It is during childhood play is fundamental to the development of cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and language skills. Therefore, it is pertinent to conduct research on play in preschool age, seeking to identify predictors of development and methods to assess the specific components that make up the different dimensions of play. The evaluation of preschool play, using valid and reliable instruments, supports the construction of intervention programs that enhance the child's full development. This systematic review aimed to investigate national and international instruments and tasks that assess play. The results indicate the existence of several instruments and tasks at pre-school age. However, the complexity of the construct still hinders the clear definition of the specific components to be assessed. There was a prevalence of the assessment of the social and cognitive dimensions over the assessment of the affective dimension, which is in line with the perceived frequency of the use of instruments that assess social interaction during play. So, this systematic review was a valuable contribution to the development and support of future research on tools for play assessment, specifically in preschool age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Assessment
  • Play
  • Preschool
  • Systematic review


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