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Dr. Nina Howe


Nina Howe, Ph.D.

(Ph.D. Psychology 1987; University of Waterloo)
(Certificate, Elementary Education 1980, University of Alberta)


Professor, Department of Education
Concordia University


1455 de Maisonneuve Boul., West
Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1M8


Tel: 514-848-2424 ext. 2008


Pathways to Constructivism is an innovative, self-guided manual for teachers to implement constructivist curriculum in early childhood classrroms. Please select one of the following to view its web site:

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My current research activity focuses on three areas: (a) co-construction of meaning in the sibling relationship, (b) the influence of the design of dramatic play centers and play props on children's play, and (c) child care. My work in sibling relations has taken several directions. In particular, I am interested in how young siblings co-construct meaning in their relationship through play, caretaking, teaching, and use of internal state language (i.e., references to emotional, mental states). A series of studies have focussed on young children's social knowledge and understanding of the sibling relationship, particularly within the pretend play context. For example, I have examined the relations between children's pretense negotiations and conflict resolution, as well as the development of shared meanings in sibling play and associations with the quality of the relationship. Currently, my SSHRC-funded research is examining how young children co-construct shared meanings in play with their sibling and best friend. Other studies have examined the indices of siblings’ creativity in the play context through the play themes they generate, play objects, and their use of descriptive language. Another project has investigated the associations between self-disclosure, intimacy, and the quality of children's sibling and peer relationships in middle childhood. Other recent work has investigated sibling teaching from a social-constructivist framework. Building on a series of studies examining sibling teaching during semi-structured tasks and associations with social cognitive understanding, we are currently investigating naturalistic teaching sequences between siblings in early childhood who have been observed in the home setting.

My second research area examines how the ecology of the early childhood classroom, specifically dramatic play centers, affects children's social and cognitive play. This project has both a theoretical and applied focus. Based on theory regarding the importance of pretend play in young children's development, we have designed a series of studies to determine how to facilitate opportunities for dramatic play in the early childhood classroom. Several of my MA in Child Study students have investigated other aspects of play, such as the relationship between solitary play and children thinking styles or the influence of different kinds of play materials (e.g., superhero or scripted toys) on children.

My third research interest is in the area of child care, specifically recent child care research and implications for Canadian public policy. The majority of recent research on child care emanates from the United States; however, the Canadian context differs from the American in significant economic and philosophical ways. My work (with E. Jacobs) has pointed to the importance of considering these differences for the development of child care policy. Professor Jacobs and I recently conducted a pan-Canadian study of curriculum in child care settings funded through Human Resources Development Canada. Finally, I have co-edited a book (with L. Prochner) titled Early Childhood Care and Education in Canada, which includes historical developments, current trends, and future directions in Canadian early childhood education. A current book (edited with L. Prochner) is in press and titled Recent Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada.






Abuhatoum, S. & Howe, N. (in press).  Power in sibling conflict during early and middle childhood.  Social Development.


Della Porta, S. & Howe, N. (in press).  Mothers' and children's use of power during hypothetical conflict situations.  Infant and Child Development.


Howe, N., Abuhatoum, S., & Chang-Kredl, S. (in press).  “Everything’s upside down. We’ll call it upside down valley!”: Siblings’ creative use of play themes, objects, and language during pretend play.  Early Education and Development.


Martinez, B. & Howe, N. (in press).  Canadian Early adolescents’ self-disclosure to siblings and best friends.  International Journal of Child, Youth, and Family Studies.