Early Childhood Education Journal

Published by Springer Nature
Online ISSN: 1573-1707
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Article
The use of shared book reading is regarded as valuable to support young children to build their oral language and emergent literacy skills in preschool classrooms. Quantitative and qualitative features of early childhood teachers’ (ECTs’) shared book reading practices are important contributors to quality shared book reading experiences. The aim of this study was to gain in-depth insights about the range and frequency of extratextual oral language and emergent literacy utterances (utterances beyond the story text) used by ECTs during shared book reading with preschoolers as well as their use of paralinguistic and nonverbal features. Video-recordings were made of 32 ECTs engaging in shared book reading with their four-year-old preschool class. ECTs’ extratextual utterances and their paralinguistic and nonverbal features were classified using a validated observational checklist: The “Emergent Literacy and Language Early Childhood Checklist for Teachers” (ELLECCT). Results showed ECTs frequently used responsive statements such as commenting on the story or acknowledging or imitating children’s utterances in book-related talk. ECTs most commonly asked closed questions during shared book reading and regularly used paralinguistic and nonverbal features such as prosody and volume in order to engage children. In contrast, ECTs used only a limited range of dialogic reading prompts and explicit vocabulary strategies and only infrequently expanded children’s utterances. Notably, ECTs rarely used strategies to target children’s print knowledge or phonological awareness. Although extratextual dialogue was used regularly by ECTs during shared book reading, targeted techniques that are known to build oral language and emergent literacy were not consistently demonstrated. These results suggest missed opportunities for preschool children to benefit from shared book reading.
 
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services and families, impacting family access to services and their communication and engagement with educators. This study aimed to examine parents’ perspectives of family engagement with ECEC services during the pandemic. Primary caregivers in Victoria at the time of recruitment (September–November 2020) were invited to participate. Of the 66 participants who completed an online survey, 25 also took part in semi-structured video call or phone interviews; qualitative findings from these interviews are reported in this paper. Four key themes were conceptualised using a reflexive thematic approach: (1) disruptions to ECEC access and attendance impacting on family routines and relationships, and child development; (2) barriers to family engagement; (3) ECEC educators’ support of families and children during the pandemic; and (4) increased parental appreciation of the ECEC profession. Findings revealed that disruptions to ECEC access and routines during the pandemic adversely impacted family engagement, and child learning and social-emotional wellbeing for some families. These were aggravated by other stressors, including increased parental responsibilities in the home, financial and health concerns, and changed work conditions. Findings also demonstrated successful methods used by educators to maintain communication and connections with families. Importantly, parents expressed increasing appreciation of the profession and an increased awareness of the value of family involvement in children’s learning. Learnings regarding strategies for effective and alternative ways of engaging families are discussed.
 
Children’s social skills according to economic status and group (IY-TCM vs. control) from preschool to primary school
Article
Transition to school may be experienced as a critical event for both children and their families. Within an ecological framework of transition, the scope of the concept of school readiness in recent years has decentered from the child to the environment, including the readiness of (pre)school education to develop core skills in children. This study aims to understand the extent to which preschool teachers' completion of training in the Incredible Years®-Teacher Classroom Management program (IY-TCM) during children’s last preschool year has an impact when children transition to primary school, and how this contributes to reducing differences between children with and without economic disadvantage. Forty-four teachers from classes with a high percentage of students in economic disadvantage completed questionnaires about 192 five/six-year-old children. Results from cross-sectional analyses showed that children whose preschool teachers attended the IY-TCM program, when compared to children whose teachers did not, were significantly higher in social skills, adaptation to school and school achievement at the end of the first term, and had parents more involved in education but with a lower bonding with the teachers (medium to large effect sizes). Although not statistically significant (p = .08, Hedge’s g = .29), results of longitudinal analyses are trending in the expected direction, suggesting that the IY- TCM could help to reduce socio-economic disparity. Results are discussed bearing in mind the importance of a preschool education that addresses the development of self-regulation and social skills in children, and the value of both initial and continuous training for preschool teachers.
 
Article
While teacher education programs are increasingly creating short-term study abroad programs to support developing teacher interculturality, programs often focus on schools typical of the host country. Few programs target a specific philosophical approach and its enactment in classrooms. This case study focuses on a two-week trip to the city of Reggio Emilia and other cities in northern Italy. The program was intended to support students in deeper understandings of the Reggio Emilia approach as well as the ways in which the approach is culturally embedded within northern Italy with the goal of students recognizing more profoundly how the approach adapts to international contexts (e.g., the United States). Students studied the Reggio Emilia approach (an approach previously encountered in university courses) and its practical application in the municipal infant/toddler centers and preschools in the city. Students demonstrated understandings of the approach and the enactment of the Reggio Emilia approach in the local context. This led to deep reflections of themselves as teachers and learners.
 
Null’s (2016) map of curriculum traditions
Article
Few matters are of greater importance to high quality early childhood education than the content and mediation of curriculum. In spite of this, early childhood curriculum practices are rarely examined through the lens of curriculum theory. This research employs educational connoisseurship and criticism as a methodology to shed light upon the curriculum discourse and practices at one public elementary school in relation to one preschool classroom. The findings indicate multiple curriculum orientations subtly coexist at the school. We argue that identifying stakeholders' curriculum orientations and understanding how they operate in the context of a particular school provides a basis for more generative curriculum deliberations that make use of the strengths and recognize the limitations of disparate curricular traditions.
 
Article
This study examined selected parameters of two newly developed measures called AEPS-3 Ready-Set and Ready-Set Family Assessment of Children’s Skills (FACS). Ready-Set is a school readiness measure designed to gather information from teachers or other professionals on children’s kindergarten school readiness skills across important developmental areas. FACS is a companion measure developed to provide a simple way for parents to assess and report their child’s skills across the same developmental areas addressed by Ready-Set. Montessori educators practicing in Florida and Idaho observed groups of preschool-age children and completed the Ready-Set assessment on selected children. In addition, selected children’s parents completed the FACS designed to provide information about their child’s skills across the same developmental areas targeted by Ready-Set. Analyses found a robust correlation between parents’ and teachers’ ratings on total area scores and more modest agreements on individual items. Teachers reported that they considered Ready-Set a user-friendly tool that provided relevant information on children’s’ readiness skills. In addition, teachers reported they would use Ready-Set again, as well as recommend its use to co-workers. This study has implications for assessing school readiness of children from both teachers and parents.
 
Chronology of study phases
Parent report of children’s engagement in science and math activities (survey results)
Article
Early introduction to science and math encourages interest and learning in these subjects later in life. As children’s first teachers, parents can expose their children to informal science and math learning activities before they enter formal schooling. It is important to understand how parents engage in science and math activities with their young children and whether parents’ perceptions of their own science and math abilities affect their engagement with their child’s informal learning, including using media as a learning tool. Using exploratory sequential mixed methods, we interviewed 12 parents and surveyed 187 parents to explore this issue. Our findings identify the science and math activities parents engage their preschool-aged children in and show that parental perceived efficacy in supporting their child's early science and math learning is related to the number of related informal activities their children do. Importantly, we found that perceived efficacy in supporting early science was related to science media use, but perceived efficacy in supporting early math was not related to math media use. This research broadens the understanding of how parents engage their child in science and math learning and can provide insight into how to empower parents to feel confident when they engage their children in science learning.
 
Article
Preparation of early childhood special educators, including early interventionists, includes knowledge and application of different practices than either early childhood generally or school-age special education. Several organizations, including the Division of Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, have identified relevant recommended practices and personnel preparation guidelines. Faculty in early childhood special education and early intervention programs were surveyed to determine how program development and delivery align with recommended practices and personnel preparation guidelines. Forty-seven respondents completed the survey and results indicate variable alignment with personnel preparation guidance. Future directions for the field are provided.
 
Change in DECA-P2 total protective factor categories from Time 1 (Fall) to Time 2 (Spring). Note: A positive change is an increase in protective factor T-scores, which means there were more observations of protective factors
Change in DECA-P2 behavioral concerns categories from Time 1 (Fall) to Time 2 (Spring). Note: A negative change is a decrease in behavioral concerns T-scores, which means there were fewer observations of behavioral concerns
Article
This analysis examined key protective factors among preschool children in low-income, rural areas. Teacher-reported Devereux Early Childhood Assessments for Preschoolers were completed for 182 Head Start children (54% female, 46% male) from seven rural, midwestern communities. The majority of children were in the typical range for each protective factor and for behavioral concerns. In comparison to a standardized sample, the rural sample had lower mean scores for all protective factors. Females had statistically significantly higher scores for initiative, self-regulation, attachment/relationships, and total protective factors, while having lower behavioral concerns than males. T-scores for initiative were statistically significantly higher for 4-year-olds than for 3-year-olds. Statistically significant negative correlations were also found between behavioral concerns and each protective factor, with the strongest negative correlation occurring with self-regulation. There was no statistically significant difference in T-scores between the fall (i.e., Time 1) and spring (i.e., Time 2). This analysis adds to existing literature by delineating the prevalence of with-in child protective factors among preschool children in rural, low-income communities and identifying areas in which these children are most in need of additional support.
 
Overview of our DBR design
The mean scores in each iteration
The teaching aims, content, and math problems of each cooking lesson
Article
Cooking is a powerful teaching activity that can be used as an integral part of an early childhood curriculum. In this study, we designed and implemented a cooking-infused program in order to investigate the ways that such a program supports preschoolers’ math concepts and skills and their attitudes toward mathematics. Data were collected over three years through both quantitative and qualitative measures of the participants’ math gains. The study results show that the following characteristics of the cookinginfused program are central to improving preschoolers’ math understanding and positive attitude toward mathematics–child-centred learning, problem-solving, daily-life connections, and peer guidance. We highlight that preschoolers could explore high levels of mathematics concepts and develop positive attitudes toward math when their learning is supported with carefully-designed cooking activities.
 
Article
Guided play activities were developed so that coding clubs could promote computational thinking skills in preschool children. The clubs involved fifteen children aged between 2 and 4 years, including a group of children with communication difficulties. The children took part in an action-research scoping study over three coding clubs involving six 45–60-min sessions. The activities were developed to teach computational skills and, ultimately, concepts of programming and coding. The findings suggested that the children began to develop many of the skills necessary for programming and coding as well as computational thinking skills such as collaboration, logical thinking and debugging algorithms. However, they found programming specific algorithms into Bee-Bots complicated and they needed support from adults to direct the robots along routes on simple maps. Overall, the guided play activities could be used in nurseries and preschool establishments to teach early computational thinking skills.
 
Article
In this study, a modified version of the Curriculum Orientation Inventory for Early Childhood Education (COI-ECE) is developed and validated with a sample of 717 in-service teachers from fifty Hong Kong pre-primary schools. Results of confirmatory factor analysis show that the curriculum beliefs of pre-primary school teachers can be conceptualised into four dimensions: humanistic, cognitive process/academic, technological, and social reconstruction orientations. Results also reveal that pre-primary school teachers hold strong humanistic orientation beliefs while cognitive process/academic orientation beliefs are held less strongly. Further analyses by one-way ANOVA tests find that differences in curricular orientation beliefs are related to teachers’ educational level and teaching position. This study reaffirms the importance of implementing an integrated developmentally appropriate curriculum in promoting whole-child development in children’s early years. The implications for supporting and sustaining teachers’ curriculum-based planning and subsequent teaching practices will be discussed.
 
Article
Suicide is a major public health issue, and a leading cause of death in the United States. Caregivers of young children with or at-risk for disabilities and developmental delays may experience significant life stressors that increase their risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Early childhood special education (ECSE) home visitors may be in a prime position to notice and intervene in these situations but may lack the training and confidence to do so. This article outlines evidence-based strategies for identifying and responding to possible suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the context of ECSE home visiting.
 
Fidelity to the use of the Matrix Approach by providers during home-based intervention sessions with the target family
Article
The purpose of this single case study was to investigate if a functional relation existed between online training and coaching, and early interventionists’ use of an approach to practice meant to facilitate family-centered practices. Four professional/family dyads participated in the study. Three of the four professionals demonstrated an immediate increase in fidelity to the approach following online training. Fidelity levels were significantly higher in intervention when supported by coaching than in baseline, although variability was observed. While maintenance data were lower than during intervention, fidelity levels were higher in maintenance than in baseline. Three issues emerged from this study that are worthy of discussion. Change in practice was observed as a result of online training. In addition, online coaching through the use of video recordings was found to be an effective method for impacting practice. Finally, the results revealed that coaching could be effective even between unfamiliar professionals. The study has implications for preservice and in-service training programs in regard to the effectiveness of online technologies for training and coaching.
 
Article
This study was intended to evaluate the impact of socioeconomically disadvantaged children’s participation in the Texas home instruction for parents of preschool youngsters (TXHIPPY) program on their school readiness and academic achievement for grades K to eight. The study used a quasi-experimental design and applied optimal full propensity score matching (PSM) to address the evaluation concern of the impact of the TXHIPPY program on HIPPY participants’ academic achievement compared to non-HIPPY participants. This study targeted former HIPPY participants and tracked them in the Dallas independent school district (DISD) database through grade levels. Data were obtained by administering istation’s indicators of progress (ISIP) for kindergarten, TerraNova/SUPERA for grades K to two, and State of Texas assessments of academic readiness (STAAR) for math and reading for grades three to eight. HIPPY and non-HIPPY groups were matched using propensity score analysis procedures. The findings show that the TXHIPPY program positively influences kindergarten students to start school ready to learn. The findings of math and reading achievements suggest that HIPPY children scored at the same level or higher than non-HIPPY children did on math and reading achievement, indicating that TXHIPPY program has achieved its goal of helping children maintain long-term academic success. However, the study findings also indicate that the impact evaluation framework must be designed with attention to higher-level factors beyond academic achievement that influence children’s academic success. This work is vital to policymakers, program managers, and evaluators in the field of home visiting interventions in which it guides implementing rigorous evaluation studies.
 
Teacher quality standards and professional dispositions
Analytic process for “Moving Towards Proficiency”
Theoretical framework for TC development in professional development schools
Article
Demands placed on early childhood teacher development, teacher candidates, and professionals who prepare future teachers, continue to increase. Although inquiry addresses high-stakes teacher development, research on programs in early childhood professional development schools as a pathway to mediate the increased demand is needed. The purpose of this study is to develop a framework to evaluate teacher candidate development that is aligned with state measures of teacher effectiveness in a professional development school. Constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, Constructing grounded theory, Sage, 2014) guided the collection and analysis of forty-three semi-structured interviews. A theoretical framework of three interrelated categories was identified: Engaged Teacher Candidate, Professional Teacher Candidate, and Reflective Teacher Candidate. Even further, seven interrelated sub-categories in the teacher candidates’ development were identified: establish relationships, classroom management, technical aspects of teaching, teacher quality standards, professional dispositions, self-reflection, and goal setting. The overarching framework was named Proficient Teacher Candidate. The framework will be evaluated against a taxonomy of development in relation to a professional development school.
 
Article
Children with disabilities between the ages of 0–5 and their families are supported by a broad coalition of special education and general education teachers and providers who collaborate in the planning and delivery of services. When services are provided in early care settings (e.g., home care, center-based care, general education Pre-K), evidence has shown that the integration of services can be a significant challenge for families. We interviewed 12 early care providers to determine their role in special education service planning and provision. Thematic analysis of the data showed that early care providers are often overlooked as contributing team members and frequently excluded from Individual Family Service Program (IFSP) and Individual Education Program (IEP) development and meetings. Despite these challenges, early care providers acted as advocates and information sources for families from referral and service provision through to the transition to kindergarten. They also often advocated for inclusion, insisting that therapists embed therapy into the children’s routines. Our findings showed that early care providers were critical to effective teaming and inclusive practices.
 
Article
This paper reports on Aboriginal parents’ perceptions about their involvement in a Western Australian pilot initiative called KindiLink. The program seeks to support parents as their child’s first teacher and thereby enhance Aboriginal children’s early-years development, while strengthening relationships between families and schools. A constructivist paradigm was used to inform the methodology which placed Aboriginal voices at the centre of the research. Data were collected from 125 participating family members, over two years and across 37 school-based KindiLink sites. The results show that parent contribution to and engagement in KindiLink provided a powerful context to acknowledge, encourage, and support parents. Parents identified the development of strong and mutually respectful relationships; the engagement in working with their child; and the incorporation of families’ cultural and linguistic knowledge into the program as positive contributing factors. The paper concludes with recommendations and implications for the further development, implementation, and evaluation of Kindilink and other programs targeted at disadvantaged communities.
 
Article
This study investigates the representation of diversity in STEM picture books for the primary grades. Research suggests that the inclusion or exclusion of various identities contributes to how children view their potential and sense of belonging, which can shape their STEM identity. Children often view books with the lens of understanding what role they can and cannot inhabit based on the characters they see represented within the pages of a book. Results indicated that primary STEM books had an absence of cultural specificity across all categories examined, showing relative invisibility for many groups of individuals. The authors conclude that there needs to be more intentionality related to culturally responsive pedagogy, pairing books with additional research that diversifies the curriculum and stimulates STEM dispositions in students, building bridges between cultures, teaching, and learning.
 
Prisma Flow Chart
Themes identified as influencing early childhood education and care in universal, publicly-funded settings
Article
Defining quality in early learning and child care (ELCC) settings is complex. With an increased emphasis on universal ELCC systems to support greater access for families, research is needed to provide clarity on the concepts that contribute to high-quality programs. In this scoping review, 41 literature sources met our criteria (of a possible 6335) to determine what is known about high-quality early childhood programming in publicly-funded, school-based settings using a systems framework. Using a thematic analysis and consistent with a systems lens, our results suggest an overarching influence from system-level policies that intersect with practice, people and place within early childhood education and care.
 
Article
Parents of infants and toddlers have expressed concerns that their children’s social-emotional development has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to gather information about parents’ and caregivers’ perspectives of experiences in a remote early childhood music class that incorporated explicit social-emotional instruction based on state learning standards. This study is a follow up to a previous intrinsic case study concerning parents’ experiences in a remote early childhood music class. Families who chose to participate in synchronous online caregiver-child classes at a local community music school were invited to participate in interviews. Eight adults, representing seven enrolled families, chose to participate. Four themes arose from the interviews: (a) Pandemic and the Upheaval of Family Life, (b) The Experience of the Child in Remote Music Class, (c) The Role of the Parent in Remote Music Class, and (d) The Unpredictable World of Remote Music Class. We share implications for teaching and suggestions for future research.
 
Article
Increasing numbers of young children are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues that require support in addition to that typically provided by family members and teachers. The services of professional counselors can be particularly useful when children need help adjusting to and coping with various stressors and situations. Many school counselors and other mental health professionals have found that carefully planned interactions between young children and animals (e.g., guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, horses) represent an effective alternative/complementary therapeutic modality. Animals may provide an accepting, nonjudgmental presence that focuses young children’s attention, motivates them to learn, and encourages participation in planned intervention activities. This article begins by describing the general purposes for counseling with young children and the role that early childhood educators can play in increasing families’ awareness of and access to these services in their communities. Next, it defines animal-assisted counseling and reviews the relevant research to build a rationale for including carefully selected animals in mental health support services for children. The third section discusses caveats about involving animals in individual and small group counseling sessions, in classrooms, and in other facilities/programs that work with young children. The article then summarizes best practices in animal-assisted counseling and how they are influenced by variables within the child, animal welfare considerations, different contexts, availability of resources, and interagency collaborations. The conclusion is a statement on the future of animal-assisted counseling for young children and how it supports the goals of humane education.
 
Article
The Japanese pedagogical strategy of mimamoru (watch and protect) has been identified by cross-culture researchers as an implicit component of early childhood education in Japan. However, little is known about the types of advice given by experts to parents regarding mimamoru. Accordingly, this study examined expert advice related to the mimamoru approach in Japanese parenting magazines from 2015 to 2019. The majority of discipline-related articles examined included discussion of the mimamoru approach for infants and toddlers in the context of dangerous child behavior, conflicts with other children, sleep problems, and daily habit building. Experts cited promotion of child autonomy and development and avoidance of over-involvement as reasons for using mimamoru. However, concerns were also raised that the mimamoru approach may increase the childrearing stress of mothers when dealing with children’s defiant behavior. The study provides an important window into the Japanese strategy of mimamoru and suggested areas of future research.
 
Sentence frames as concrete supports
Article
Writing skills grow along a predictable developmental trajectory, yet what is considered “writing” can look very different in preschool and early elementary classrooms. The way in which writing may look in each setting reflects that teachers are working with different sets of learning standards, with different conceptualizations of writing to inform their pedagogical decisions (Tortorelli et al., Reading Research Quarterly, 57(2), 729–752, 2021). These differences translate into varied expectations for what young children are capable of and how these skills should be supported (Tortorelli et al., Reading Research Quarterly, 57(2), 729–752, 2021). We recommend that across the 3–6 age band teachers provide meaningful writing experiences that link composing with writing concepts and transcription skills. This article provides concrete instructional strategies to support an integrative approach to writing and includes guidance for writing concepts, handwriting, spelling, and composing to support a successful preschool to kindergarten writing transition for children.
 
Mean toddler attention in seconds across all teaching conditions
Box Plot Chart of Toddler attention in seconds across all for each teaching conditions
Article
The purpose of this study was to identify differences in the length of attention in 2-year olds across three teaching conditions. A total of 49 2-year-olds were observed within their childcare classrooms. The child’s regular classroom teacher was asked to select three highly preferred toys to use in offering the child choices within the teaching conditions of adult presentation (one toy) and adult choice (two toys); the child was given the instruction to “go play” during the child choice condition and could select from any material in the classroom. Children’s attention in the adult choice condition was significantly longer. Results from the present study highlight the importance of a highly skilled teacher who has knowledge of child development and an understanding of individual child preferences.
 
Article
Autistic children present with unique challenges that may be associated with challenges during the kindergarten transition process. While teachers endorse transition to kindergarten practices as important, implementation of effective transition practices is inconsistent. One possible reason is limited training during pre-service education; however, research about this is scarce. This study examined pre-service teachers’ knowledge of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and transitions to kindergarten. Findings indicate a lack of knowledge regarding both autism and transition, as well as significant differences in knowledge of autism, wherein those seeking special education certification reported higher levels of knowledge. These results highlight training opportunities for preparing pre-service teachers to better serve young autistic children.
 
Article
During COVID-19, many schools in the United States restrict parent visits and parent-teacher face-to-face meetings. Consequently, teachers and parents rely on digital technologies to communicate and build partnerships. Yet, little is known about their perceived experiences with digital communication. To contribute knowledge to this area, this study investigated the perceptions of the classroom teacher and parents of preschool children concerning their experiences of communicating with each other via digital technologies during COVID-19. The participants consisted of one teacher and three mothers of 3-year-olds in the same classroom of a private childcare center serving preschool children from mostly middle-class backgrounds in a northeastern state of the United States. The teacher and parents were interviewed individually and virtually via Zoom for 30–60 min (M = 45 min). A thematic analysis uncovered four salient themes: (1) modes of digital communication between the teacher and parents, (2) the nature of digital communication, (3) limitations of digital communication, and (4) digital communication via ClassDojo. The ClassDojo theme further revealed three subthemes: (1) ClassDojo for promoting proactive parent involvement, (2) ClassDojo for building teacher-parent partnerships, and (3) the use of limited functions of ClassDojo. The data were triangulated by analyzing teacher-parent communication artifacts on ClassDojo, which confirmed the findings related to the use of this digital platform.
 
Article
Many parents of toddlers and young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face challenges in identifying community childcare centers that are adequately prepared to provide developmentally appropriate care for their toddler while also obtaining the recommended amount of early intervention services in their communities. Implementing naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) within childcare centers would increase toddlers’ with ASD access to evidence-based interventions and support their parents. In preparation for an NDBI childcare adaptation, we surveyed 55 childcare providers on their knowledge of ASD, confidence and experiences caring for toddlers with ASD, and openness to, and preferred format of, receiving additional training. Overall, interest in training was high, most providers were willing to attend at least one training session. Providers who experienced child behaviors that interfered with learning were significantly more likely to be interested in additional training. However total training hours providers were willing to complete was low compared to typical NDBI training practices and adult learning strategies literature.
 
Article
Policies related to the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms have led to questions regarding how teachers can help cultivate inclusive learning communities where all children are supported and valued. In play-based kindergarten programs, teachers are tasked with ensuring goals for children’s learning and development are cultivated in play. However, debates persist regarding the optimal role of the teacher in play and how to meaningfully support the play of children with disabilities. The current multiple case study explored the perspectives and approaches of three kindergarten teachers who highly valued, and strived to enable, participation and inclusion in play-based learning, referred to here as enactors. A minimum of three hours of observation were conducted in each classroom in the fall, and semi-structured teacher interviews were conducted in the fall and spring of the school year. Enactors shared some common themes related to implementing play-based learning to promote inclusion, including a balance of child agency and teacher guidance, involvement that is child-centred and flexible, and the importance of supporting social interactions in play. These views informed both common and unique practices observed in play, including one-on-one conversations, supporting small groups, becoming an active play partner, and collaboratively addressing problems that arose in play. These results illustrate ways enactors gave meaning to the concept of inclusion through their play practices, providing salient examples of play alongside teachers’ craft knowledge to help support inclusive play-based learning practices going forward.
 
Article
This study focuses on the early years program at International School Hong Kong (ISHK), a school with an explicit mission towards global mindedness. The program aims to move beyond narrow conceptions of us/them, north/south, and east/west binaries. Instead, ISHK urges children to view the world holistically through a range of perspectives. Within the context of ISHK, the early childhood program encourages children to understand the concept of interdependence through strong relationships and caring for others and the environment. The school draws from both Deweyan and Confucian philosophies in an effort to blend ideas of the East and West. Confucian ideals, in particular, support the need for a child to become junzi (君子, an exemplary person) through harmonious relationships, respect and appreciation of differences, coexistence with others, and compassion for the natural world. Deweyan views of democratic relationships support children in learning to work together and find common ground with others. Findings from this study suggest that children at ISHK learn to engage with and challenge peers, encounter and respect cultures other than their own, and investigate ways to conserve the planet. Through this program, children appear to be building early competencies for long-term global engagement.
 
Steps for teaching vocabulary in activities
Flowchart for implementing vocabulary strategies
ABI activity matrix
Article
Vocabulary knowledge provides a critical foundation for later reading comprehension. Children with limited vocabularies and background knowledge often need many opportunities to learn a new word. One effective way to promote vocabulary acquisition for young children is to provide opportunities for children to learn new words throughout classroom routines. Activity-Based Intervention, an early childhood teaching approach, can be used as a framework for planning and implementing vocabulary instruction across planned, child-directed, and routine activities like science and math activities, free play during center time, and mealtimes. By using these underutilized times of the day for instruction, and by adapting instructional strategies and words taught to meet the needs of individual learners, early childhood educators can provide rich vocabulary instruction to all young children.
 
Article
Behavior disorders in early childhood are a major public health concern. A large percentage of young children spend their day in childcare settings, making early childhood educators a relevant population to target for behavior management interventions and training. Conscious Discipline® (CD®) is an evidence-based program targeting social emotional learning that involves helping teachers modify classroom environment and teacher strategies to address children’s disruptive behavior. Although CD® has been widely disseminated across the country, very few studies have examined the implementation of the intervention, particularly within early childhood education settings. The current study utilized the promoting action on research implementation in health services framework (i-PARIHS) to assess both facilitators and barriers related to successful implementation among a large cohort of pre-Kindergarten teachers (N = 269). Qualitative methods were utilized to assess teachers’ perceived impact of CD®; implementation of structures, rituals, and routines; and both facilitators and barriers to implementation. Results revealed both facilitators and barriers across domains of the innovation; recipients; and local, organizational, and external contexts. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
 
Four symbols to represent each of the four respective occupations
Audio screen when participants are listening to the prompt. For example, a name, "John" is presented acoustically
Response screen when participants are choosing either the male image or the female image
Example of an incongruent trial. In these trials participants were presented with previously viewed images of men and women as well as symbols depicting an occupation, where the image of a man was underneath the nurse or singer symbol, while the image of a woman was underneath the athlete or scientist symbol
Example of a congruent trial. In these trials, participants were presented with previously viewed images of men and women as well symbols depicting an occupation, where the image of a man was underneath the athlete or scientist symbol, while the image of a woman was underneath the nurse or singer symbol
Article
Gender stereotypes established early in childhood have a profound impact on a child’s sense of self-definition: they commonly influence behaviours regarding academic pursuit and career aspirations. The aim of the current study was to investigate the emergence of explicit and implicit gender stereotypes in children aged 5–8 years. Fifty-four children were recruited from a primary school in Manchester, United Kingdom. Four occupations (scientist, nurse, athlete, singer) and their corresponding personality traits (intelligence, empathy, athleticism, confidence) were examined. Explicit bias was measured using a forced-choice preference task. Implicit bias was measured using the Implicit Association Test. Binomial tests showed that explicit biases emerged amongst the youngest of pupils. Using a Four-Way ANCOVA, it was found that both boys and girls showed an implicit preference for males towards the Athlete domain only. These findings were discussed with reference to a sociocultural perspective through Social Learning Theory, and a cognitive framework through Gender Schema Theory.
 
Visual representation of connections between classroom practices, language ideologies, and differences between language subgroups
Article
This study sought to learn more about preschool teachers’ self-reported classroom practices related to DLLs and how such practices might be linked to their language ideologies. This study further investigated whether any differences existed between teachers’ classroom practices and language ideologies based on self-reported skills in their students’ home language. Key insights from this study include evidence of: (1) links between classroom practice and teachers’ language ideologies; (2) variation in beliefs and practices based on teachers’ own language skills; and (3) teachers’ use of children’s home language primarily for social connection rather than instructional purposes. The findings have implications for the early childhood workforce, both with respect to in-service teacher professional development and for pre-service teacher preparation programs.
 
Article
The aim of this study was to examine the design features of six outdoor play areas and the play preferences of children using these areas. Through the behavior mapping method, 102 preschoolers were observed for 3 days during their hour-long outdoor play time. The Playground’s Physical Characteristics Scale and Play Observation Form were utilized for observations. It was indicated that manufactured fixed equipment primarily dominated the observed play areas and play types of children. Functional/parallel play was the most commonly observed play type within areas with manufactured fixed equipment. However, different cognitive and social play types were observed in areas that included natural elements, open area, and loose materials. Thus, it was indicated that there is need for change from a traditional design mind-set regarding play areas, to more child-centered designs where the needs and inputs of children are taken into consideration during the design process.
 
A balance beam used as the spiderweb to walk on
a–d Composing a set of three bears and exploring the part-whole relations of three
Article
This paper reports on a combined research-development project conducted in collaboration between researchers and preschool teachers in three Swedish preschools. The aim is to investigate how ongoing preschool activities may become the starting point for mathematics teaching in which toddlers are given the opportunity to distinguish necessary aspects of numbers. One challenge in preschool education is the balance between children’s previous experiences and interests versus offering them new experiences and challenges towards a learning goal. In the article, empirical examples are used to illustrate how small changes in an activity may open up opportunities for toddlers to discern different critical aspects of numbers without losing the activity’s initial intention. Principles for how early numeracy education can be designed to achieve this balancing act are presented and elaborated on.
 
A standard coaching cycle
Coaching dynamics developing high-quality TTI coaches
Article
Research shows that effective and high-quality instructional coaching that targets teacher-child interactions can improve the classroom quality, increase teacher job satisfaction, reduce attrition, and even improve young children’s development, such as social emotional development, and literacy skills. Coaches likely develop and sharpen their communication, leadership, coaching, and reflective skills, as well as their sense of professional identity over time. Thus, the current study uses data gathered from instructional coaches and their preservice teachers (PSTs) during their internships to explore (1) the dynamic process of how coaches develop their professional competency in an empirically validated coaching program, and (2) the elements of high-quality, effective coaching with PSTs. After analyzing transcriptions of two interviews with 11 instructional coaches, four themes were found that supported the MMCI Coach’s Professional Competency Development: Deepened understanding of the Teaching through Interactions Framework, Increased sense of professional identity, Sharpened coaching skills, and Enhanced mentor–mentee relationships.
 
Article
Building on aspects of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory centering around social interaction and adult scaffolding as essential to children’s learning, this study investigated the most prominently used strategies by eight teachers to scaffold social and emotional learning (SEL) in preschool children (ages 3–4) in the context of remote instruction during the 2021–2022 school year amidst COVID-19. These teachers (seven females and one male) came from two urban preschools funded by their local Board of Education in the state of New Jersey in the United States. These teachers (ages 28–44 years, M = 32 years) varied in teaching experience from five to 29 years (M = 13 years). Each teacher was interviewed for an average of 40 min virtually via Zoom. The interviews were digitally recorded and then transcribed for analysis. A thematic analysis of the data revealed that the three most salient strategies the teachers implemented to virtually scaffold the children’s SEL were: (1) involving book reading and discussion, (2) utilizing visuals, and (3) engaging in targeted conversations. In addition to adapting these three traditional strategies applied during in-person instruction to remote instruction, the teachers creatively and appropriately leveraged online resources to further scaffold and enhance children’s SEL in the unconventional virtual environment, thereby expanding their toolboxes. Despite their intentional efforts, these teachers found that there were unconventional opportunities and novel challenges in scaffolding children’s SEL during remote instruction not traditionally found during in-person instruction. Collectively, the findings of this study suggest that in-person instruction, due to its social nature, is still the most optimal condition for promoting children’s SEL.
 
Dark boxes show the educational components of the program (i.e., educator training, whole group sessions, activity handouts); white boxes show research contact points (i.e., observations, surveys, focus groups, interviews); gray arrows indicate the progression of adult sessions; and striped arrows indicate divergence in family participation (i.e., facilitated family sessions v. families repeating the activity at home on their own)
Article
Parents have a strong influence on young children’s science learning. Factors such as parental education, interest, and child-directed speech influence how children perceive and engage with science. While the role of informal early learning settings in providing a space for parents and children to engage with science has been documented, the power of joint parent–child engagement in adult-oriented learning programs has been largely unexplored. This article explores a media-enhanced model designed to support family science within adult-oriented programs serving populations with low incomes. Families in these communities possess limited economic resources and social capital for engaging in traditional science settings. The model integrates promising features to improve science engagement for families with low incomes, such as staggered instruction, media modeling, and facilitated instruction. In this study, educators introduced science ideas to parents enrolled in adult education classes using “activity sets” that included animated videos, a digital game, and hands-on activities. Afterwards, parents used the activity sets to explore the same science ideas with their children, either in a facilitated family education setting, or at home on their own. Researchers collected qualitative data through event observations, parent interviews, parent focus groups, and educator interviews. They collected quantitative data through post-event parent surveys. Findings suggest that the model effectively promotes parents’ and children’s engagement with science and has the potential to increase adult comfort and confidence with family science.
 
Early Childhood Practices Organized Within an MTSS Framework
Article
The purpose of this paper is to provide an inclusive framework for supporting all children in early childhood education classrooms while also considering early learning standards, curricula, and everyday activities and routines. We describe universal design for learning, multi-tiered systems of support, embedded learning opportunities, and how these practices can be intertwined to support the early development and learning of all young children. Within universal design for learning we describe the multi-sensory ways early childhood educators can represent information, engage young learners, and facilitate expression. Multi-tiered systems of support promote intentional and individualized instructional decision-making guided by data to support children in attaining target learning objectives. We describe embedded learning opportunities which are intentional and naturalistic opportunities to work on specific skills throughout daily activities and routines. Sample informal assessments and additional resources to learn more about each of these practices are included.
 
Lesson themes and content for the START program
Baseline data for experimental and standard practices classrooms
Article
The “first-grade problem” of the lack of concentration, listening, and following of instruction has been widely identified among Japanese kindergarten students. To promote their executive functioning and self-regulation to prevent this issue, we developed the Social Thinking and Academic Readiness Training (START) program. The experimental group in which the program was implemented contained 79 children (average age = 73.22 months), and the standard practices group contained 70 children (average age = 72.91 months). Before and after the intervention, the children underwent tasks to test their behavioral self-regulation and executive function (working memory). For behavioral self-regulation, a significant interaction occurred between condition (experimental and standard practices) and time (pre- and post-test), suggesting that these 6 START lessons promoted self-regulation. However, no effects were found on either auditory or visual memory. Teacher reports in surveys were consistent with the executive functioning outcomes, reporting improvement in children’s concentration, listening, and self-regulation skills.
 
The frequency of physical activities participated by children
Amount of time for children’s weekly physical activity participation
Article
The present research examined the effects of family-related factors on how parents perceive and choose physical activities that stimulate their children’s physical fitness and motor development. Using the random sampling approach, a total of 284 4- to 5-year-old children (n = 147 boys; n = 137 girls) were included in the sample. These children’s physical fitness [measured by the Manual of National Physical Fitness Evaluation Standard (China’s Department of General Administration Buren of Sport, 国民体质测定标准手册 (幼儿部分) [The manual of national physical fitness evaluation standard-child version], People’s Sports Press, 2003)], large and fine motor development [measured by the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-Second Edition (Henderson et al., Movement assessment battery for children-2: Movement ABC-2: Examiner’s manual, Pearson, 2007)], and their parents’ attitudes toward physical activities [measured using the items of Parental Attitude toward Physical Activities scale (Wen, T. (2011). 幼儿园体育活动现状与改革的研究 [An investigation research on current situation and reform of physical education in kindergarten]. Master dissertation. Inner Mongolia Normal University)] were assessed. The results showed that parental attitudes positively predicted the performance of two-feet jumping in the physical fitness measurement and negatively predicted the performance of post coins by non-dominant hand in the motor ability test. Children who participated in both competitive and leisure physical activity showed significantly higher scores on the motor ability test than children who only participated in leisure physical activity. The child who participated in both types of physical activity scored significantly higher in tennis ball throwing, catching bean bag, and jumping on mats test. Children who participated in competitive physical activity showed significantly higher scores in tennis ball throwing and jumping on mats. This study provided evidence that family-related factors (e.g., parental attitude towards physical activities and children’s participation in activities) stimulate their children’s physical fitness and motor development among Chinese preschool children. Discussions and implications of the findings about how to provide support for children’s physical fitness and motor development, such as providing children more time for physical activities and more kinds of activities, were included.
 
Conceptual framework
Article
The impact of children’s health, wellbeing, and family environment on their learning and development is evident. Identifying the needs of children and their families is the first step to effectively developing and implementing programs that promote child development. This research employed a convergent mixed methods design and incorporated multiple data collection and analysis techniques to explore the needs of prekindergarten children related to their health, wellbeing, and family environment. A large-scale survey, regional meetings, and focus groups were conducted among a total of 4615 parents/caregivers, organizational representatives, and community members in the state of South Carolina, in the United States. Understanding child development, getting services for children and families, making childcare accessible and affordable, having enough family time, building strong relationships with children, and community support for families were identified as priorities. Parents/caregivers of different socio-demographic backgrounds prioritized different needs.
 
Flow of participants through study
Article
This study explored whether Year 1 school children exposed to a 12-week classroom-based gross motor program progressed differently than Year 1 children undertaking their regular school program in motor proficiency, mathematics, and reading outcomes. Fifty-five Australian Year 1 school children (25 boys, 30 girls, mean age 6.77 ± 0.40 years) were exposed to either (i) their normal school program (Class N) or (ii) a 12-week program comprised of gross motor circuits and physically active: a) reading lessons (Class R) or b) mathematics lessons (Class M). Motor proficiency and academic performance in mathematics and reading were assessed using the Bruininks–Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (2nd Edition) and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test—2nd Edition—Australian Standardised Edition, respectively. Differences in outcomes between classes following the 12-week program were assessed. Mean change scores for the mathematics composite were significantly greater for participants in Class R (9.61 ± 5.62, p = .001) and Class M (7.57 ± 5.79, p = .019) than for participants in Class N (0.76 ± 8.00). Mean change scores for reading (11.54 ± 7.51, p = .017) and total motor composites (6.12 ± 5.07, p = .034) were also significantly greater for participants in Class M than Class N (4.47 ± 3.50 and 0.82 ± 4.38 respectively). A 12-week classroom-based gross motor program may be beneficial for motor skill development and learning in Year 1 school children. This pilot evaluation may usefully inform future experimental studies to further investigate whether classroom-based motor skill programs have a beneficial effect on motor proficiency and academic outcomes in children in the early years of primary school.
 
Article
This study examined the contextual factors that shape how young children come to value and use the visual arts in their learning. The research sought to understand more deeply, the impact of visual arts practices that are informed by sociocultural theories on children’s and their family’s perceptions and engagement with the visual arts in their learning. Recognising the profound impact of bidirectional relationships in the early years (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), this interpretive qualitative research focused on the interactions between children, teachers, and families at three early childhood settings and at six children’s homes in Auckland, New Zealand. The theoretical framework and study design were underpinned by sociocultural theories, bioecological theories, and by narrative inquiry. Participatory arts-based methods were fundamental as they allowed the research participants to play significant roles in telling their stories through textual and visual means. Through multi-layered analysis, a complex web of influences shaping how children engage in the visual arts emerged. A key finding was the impact of bi-directional interactions within settings and between settings. The teachers in this study wove together rich, contextualised visual arts curricula and actively engaged with children through the visual arts. They prioritised disseminating the value of these practices to their educational communities. As a result, parents recognised how visual arts can enrich and support their child’s learning. Teachers who actively role modelled enjoyment and expertise in the visual arts were a particularly potent influence. These findings demonstrate that developing shared values between settings in the microsystem can enrich children’s capacity to become imaginative visual researchers.
 
Profile plot for the three class model
Article
Research on bullying and victimization has largely focused on univariate analyses on older children. Little is known regarding the bullying and victimization experience of young children with a person-centered approach, especially in Chinese affordable kindergarten settings. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence and underlying profiles of bullying and victimization experiences. The study was based on a sample of 92,528 children aging from 2 to 6 years old enrolled in 582 Chinese affordable kindergartens. Latent profile analysis (LPA) was conducted to identify latent profiles of participants based on their bullying-victimization characteristics. The results suggested that the most common bullying form was physical bullying, followed by verbal bullying, and social bullying. A three-class model was identified from the involved participants: not involved class, physical bully-victim class, and verbal-physical victim class. Male children were more likely to be in the “physical bully-victim” and “verbal-physical victim” class than female children. Children with one or more siblings were more likely than children with no sibling to be in the “physical bully-victim” and “verbal-physical victim” class. Our study suggests that bullying may be prevalent in affordable kindergarten and it is urgent to create a policy framework to identify, intervene and prevent bullying behaviors.
 
Article
The demographic landscape in the United States is changing rapidly, and early childhood programs are experiencing an increase in the enrollment of Dual Language Learners (DLLs). The current study employed a mixed-methods case study design to explore the impact of creative drama on Head Start DLLs’ social and emotional development. Six DLLs enrolled in a Head Start center participated in the 9-week creative drama intervention. Quantitative data showed that participants’ social and emotional skills improved significantly after the intervention. Qualitative data further revealed that participants demonstrated improvements in social interactions, including increased confidence, enhanced cooperation skills, and better emotion management. Overall, the findings from the current study suggest that creative drama is a promising strategy for Head Start DLLs to increase their social and emotional competence.
 
Black car/White car experiment
“I am Elsa” by Sam “I am Tinkerbell and Peter Pan” by Molly
Article
This qualitative case study investigated how an early childhood teacher and young children in a public White-predominant kindergarten classroom engaged in critical discussions of anti-bias issues including racism, White privilege, gender stereotypes, gender nonconformity, sexism, and homophobia. Through the use of interactive read-alouds using anti-bias picture books, the study’s findings revealed that (a) the children could participate in thoughtful interactions during anti-bias read-aloud sessions and showed their complex understanding of race and gender issues; (b) the children needed substantial support to engage in activism against social injustices; (c) the children displayed a variety of responses to the discussion questions and activities related to gender-themed picture books as most children had difficulties resisting gender binary conceptions and stereotypes while some children, especially boys, were strongly empowered to embrace gender-nonconforming practices; and finally (d) some children internalized and enacted anti-immigrant, anti-Blackness, and racial/gender discriminatory actions to which the early childhood teacher often failed to either disrupt or intervene.
 
Regulation and Child Gender Predicting Children’s Task Competition
Article
Preschool children naturally display competitive behavioral patterns. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the association between preschool children’s regulation (regulatory and control components) and competitive behaviors (task-oriented and other-referenced). A total of 260 preschool children (47.7% girls) ranging in age from 49 to 72 months (M = 63.83, SD = 6.17) were recruited for the current study. The participating teachers reported on children’s regulation and competitive behaviors. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses that accounted for the nesting structure of the data revealed that children’s regulation and control skills were significantly related to their task-oriented competition. Child gender moderated the association between regulation and task-oriented competition such that being highly regulated contributed to children’s task-oriented competition, specifically for boys. Control skills were negatively associated with children’s other-referenced competition. Implications of the study and future directions are discussed.
 
Top-cited authors
Mary Renck Jalongo
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Stamatios J Papadakis
  • University of Crete
Michail Kalogiannakis
  • University of Crete
Reginald Williams
  • South Carolina State University
Kevin J. Swick
  • University of South Carolina