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Reconstructing readiness: Young children’s priorities for their early school adjustment

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Abstract

Young children in communities facing socioeconomic disadvantage are increasingly targeted by school readiness interventions. Interventions are stronger if they address stakeholders’ priorities, yet children’s priorities for early school adjustment are rarely accounted for in intervention design including selection of outcome measures. The Children’s Thoughts about School Study (CTSS) examined young children’s accounts of their early school experiences, and their descriptions of what a new school starter would need to know. Mixed-method interviews were conducted with 42 kindergarten children in a socioeconomically deprived suburb of Dublin, Ireland. First, inductive thematic analysis identified 25 priorities across four domains: feeling able and enthusiastic for school; navigating friendships and victimisation; supportive environments with opportunities to play; bridging school and family life. Second, deductive analysis compared children’s priorities at item level against a school readiness outcome battery. Children’s priorities were assigned to three groups: (1) assessed by outcome measures (core academic competencies, aspects of self-regulation); (2) partially assessed (self-efficacy, social skills for friendship formation and avoiding victimisation, creative thinking, play); and (3) not assessed by outcome measures (school liking, school environment, family-school involvement). This analysis derived from children’s own perspectives suggests that readiness interventions aiming to support early school adjustment would benefit from considering factors children consider salient. It offers recommendations for advancing conceptual frameworks, improving assessment, and identifying new targets for supporting children and schools. In doing so we provide a platform for children’s priorities to be integrated into the policies and practices that shape their early lives.

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... But very few studies have explored the role of selfregulation in the path from family factors to preschool readiness (by age 3) in China ( Xie & Li, 2018a ). In addition, the existing school readiness studies have focused on academic skills such as literacy and numeracy, leaving physical, social, and emotional wellbeing understudied ( Britto, 2012 ;Kagan, Moore, & Bredekamp, 1995 ;( O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, & Barker, 2020 ). This study will fill these research gaps by examining the role of selfregulation in the association between family factors and children's preschool readiness using the perspective of whole-person development ( Britto, 2012 ;Xie & Li, 2018a ) and Bronfenbrenner's bioecological theory ( Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006 ). ...
... Existing literature on school readiness has focused on the narrowly constructed and academically driven domains of literacy and numeracy, failing to incorporate physical, social, and emotional wellbeing from the perspective of whole-person development ( Britto, 2012 ;Kagan, Moore, & Bredekamp, 1995 ;O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, & Barker, 2020). Furthermore, a set of competencies is needed for young children to successfully transition from the caring home environment (and, for some, childcare service) to the structured, group-based learning environment at preschool ( Horm et al., 2016 ). ...
Article
This study examined the role of selfregulation in the path from family factors to preschool readiness in China. Altogether 661 preschool children (M = 43.30 months, SD = 3.6) were sampled from 5 preschools in a coastal city of Southern China. Their parents reported on the family routines, parenting styles, and the child's selfregulation. And their teachers rated each child's preschool readiness. The structural equation modeling results suggested that: (1) selfregulation could significantly predict children's preschool readiness, including abilities to follow classroom rules, learning dispositions, and social competence; (2) selfregulation mediated the path from family routines to children's preschool readiness; (3) selfregulation also mediated the relationships between authoritative parenting and children's preschool readiness; (4) authoritarian parenting directly influenced children's social competence; and (5) family SES only correlated with young children's selfcare and emotional maturity. These findings underscore the importance of considering the joint influences of children's selfregulation, family routines, parenting styles, and family SES in shaping children's readiness for preschool.
... Through our project on understanding early child playfulness and its influence on children's socioemotional development, which is led by Professor Paul Ramchandani, we published a review of father-infant play (Amodia-Bidakowska, Laverty, & Ramchandani, 2020). Researchers in this group have also published research on children's priorities for their early school adjustment including supportive environments to be creative and playful and practice self-regulation (Booth, O'Farrelly, Hennessy, & Doyle, 2019;O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, & Barker, 2020). ...
... By consequence school readiness interventions and the measures used to evaluate their impact may be missing aspects of early school adjustment that children consider to be important, e.g. social skills for friendship formation, avoiding victimisation, creative thinking and play (Booth et al., 2019;O'Farrelly et al., 2020). Our experiences demonstrate that children are important stakeholders in research and their perspectives can and should help to inform the policies and practices that shape their lives. ...
Article
Participatory approaches to play research emphasise the active engagement of key stakeholders in all aspects of the research. Ranging from children, parents and educators to policy makers, the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK, actively engages with a variety of play research stakeholders. The current paper focuses on the ways PEDAL Centre involves children and teachers in its studies. It presents the key literature on participatory research, describes methods followed in the PEDAL Centre and shares insights from applying participatory approaches to play research with children and teachers.
... In these multidisciplinary discussions I have found it helpful to reference studies that can speak to the validity and reliability of young children's reports (see O'Farrelly et al., 2020). Increasingly I present de-identified thematic datasets, so the richness of the dataset can speak for itself. ...
... Even those who accept the core value of rights-based approaches, may not be swayed to invest resources in listening, and so it also helps to provide illustrations of the added value of this work. This could include the potential benefits that programmes will be more effective as they are better matched to children's expressed needs, priorities and aspirations, ensuring outcome measures have good face validity and are sensitive to treatment effects in areas of children's lives that could otherwise go undetected, and are not diluted or overlooked by reliance on proxy reports (see O'Farrelly et al., 2020;Tatlow-Golden & Guerin, 2017). Crucially this could also mean that quality of life measures, that are used to estimate and justify the cost effectiveness of interventions, are more sensitive to the areas of wellbeing that matter to children (Singh, 2017). ...
Article
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Interventions aimed at improving children's lives are widespread and research evaluating these is central to policy decisions that affect their lives. Although there is an increasing move in intervention and evaluation research to include stakeholders’ perspectives this rarely extends to children's voices. As a psychologist committed to children's rights, this article explores my experiences of working at times on the fringes of my own discipline, drawing on wide‐ranging resources and collaborating with other disciplines. The article reflects on the challenges and opportunities of multidisciplinary research and bringing young children's perspectives into these places where they are rarely heard.
... Conceptually, the term 'readiness' was controversial idealists perceived readiness as a phenomenon within the child (O'Farrelly et al., 2020). The readiness of a child to attend school depends on the function of the maturational processes inherent in each child. ...
Article
Children are observed as potentially productive individuals whose ‘productivity’ is critical to the future and development of society (Ang, 2014). Therefore, society expects that children need to be prepared for future productivity. Heckman (2011) suggests that significant economic benefits can be gained from investing in early childhood development. Specifically, early education is an invaluable investment for governments and families. Based on this perspective, countries invest in early care and education (Kulic et al., 2019). Most countries have attempted to achieve multiple purposes in ECE (Cochran, 2011; Kulic et al., 2019). Some are child-focused purposes, such as preparation for compulsory education and the socialisation of migrant children. There are also parent-oriented purposes, such as emancipating women and encouraging them to enter the labour market and meeting the childcare needs of working parents (Bianchi & Milkie, 2010). This research attempts to use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the Reggio approach as examples to critically discuss one of the purposes of ECE from an international pedagogical perspective. The purpose is to prepare for primary school. This is a controversial sexual purpose. This purpose will lead schools, parents, and teachers to place an over-emphasis on developing children’s academic skills and neglect other children’s needs. Therefore, the risk of schoolization of early education needs to be prevented.
... [485] (Dockett & Perry, 2001;Haymes et al., 1994;Kaya & Akgun, 2016;Ladd, 1996;McIntry et al., 2006;Nakamichi et al., 2019;O'Farrelly et al., 2020;Şepitçi Sarıbaş & Gültekin Akduman, 2019). Some studies focus on "ready children" (Büyüktaşkapu-Soydan, 2017) while some address parental attitudes, parent-child relations, and parental involvement for school readiness (Britto, 2012;Hill, 2001;Hill, Mann & Fitzgerald, 2011;Marti, et al., 2018) and others emphasize "ready schools" focusing on teacher-child relationship (Cannon, Jacknowitz, Karoly, 2012;Curby, Rimm-Kaufman & Ponitz, 2009;Mashburn et. ...
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The current study aims to reveal preschoolers' and first graders' perspectives of primary school. A qualitative research design was employed, and multiple sampling methods were used to retrieve the participants. The participants were 15 preschoolers with an average age of 69 months attending and 15 first graders with an average age of 80 months. A semi-structured interview form developed by the researchers was used for the data collection. The results showed that most preschoolers had some knowledge of primary school. Their views of primary school generally focused physical characteristics of the school, lessons and rules, and daily routines. First graders said that they were learning new things in primary school and that they felt happy when they started school. They also stated that they need friends in primary school to be happy and that it is important to listen to their teachers carefully. The biggest difference between preschool and primary school was the lessons. They also remarked that they need to play more games in primary school.
... Yet, actively involving the child in their transition can be immensely benefcial in allaying any fears while helping them to express their thoughts about the experience and what they are looking forward to. One study (O'Farrelly et al., 2019) found that school readiness initiatives would be improved by consultation with the child and encouraging the participation of the child, especially regarding the child's priorities. ...
... One of the domains of school readiness that is rarely fully assessed is approaches to learning Kagan et al., 1995;O'Farrelly et al., 2020). Approaches to Learning are attributes that help children learn: enthusiasm, self-regulation, persistence, motivation, interest, flexibility, initiative, reflection, attentiveness, cooperation, and independence (e.g., Hyson 2008; Kagan et al., 1995;Li et al., 2019;McDermott et al., 2012;Sabol and Pianta, 2017). ...
Thesis
The overall goal of this study is to enhance school readiness assessment in Kenya by developing an easy-to-use tablet-based android app that can support teachers and learners during the assessment of Pre-academic skills, Mastery Motivation (MM) and Executive Functions (EF) in the Kenyan context. We operationalised MM and EF as components of Approaches to Learning (ATL): one of the poorly assessed domains of school readiness. This research was based on the theory of ATL and followed a non-experimental longitudinal research design. One study was a Scoping Review that identified the gap in the literature in the assessment of School Readiness domains using game-like apps. This study formed the basis for developing Finding Out Children's Unique Strengths (FOCUS) app for Kenya following Education Design Research Approach. Two studies tested and evaluated the psychometric properties of the FOCUS app in the Kenyan context. Another two empirical studies focused on adapting the Preschool Dimension of Mastery Questionnaire 18 (DMQ 18) and the Childhood Executive Functioning (CHEXI) to complement the assessment of MM and EF, respectively. In addition, one study addressed the role played by MM and EF on school academic performance. A total of 40 teachers, 497 preschool and 535 grade 1 children were involved in this study. Both parametric and non-parametric statistical analyses were used to analyse the generated data. The FOCUS app, CHEXI and DMQ 18 fit well with the data and exhibited strong psychometric properties, thus being suitable for the Kenyan context. Furthermore, both MM and EF were directly and indirectly, involved in grade one children's academic performance. FOCUS app tasks, pre-academic skills, and number and letter search tasks at preprimary II strongly predicted preschool and grade one academic performance. MM assessed using the FOCUS app as a better predictor of academic performance than the DMQ 18. Interventions to improve MM and EF promise to enhance School Readiness in the Kenyan context. The FOCUS app can greatly complement Kenya School Readiness Test to give teachers and parents a broader spectrum to make correct decisions concerning the child.
... The most common approach has been to ask children direct questions about the teacher; as illustrated by the following instruments: Child Appraisal of Relationship with Teacher Scale (Vervoort et al., 2015); Feelings about School (Valeski & Stipek, 2001); My Family and Friends (Murray, Murray, & Waas, 2008); School Feelings Questionnaire (Bowes et al., 2009); Student Perception of Affective Relationship with Teacher Scale (Koomen & Jellesma, 2015); Teacher Acceptance (Harrison, Clarke, & Ungerer, 2007); and Young Children's Appraisal of Teacher Support (Mantzicopoulos & Neuharth-Pritchett, 2003). Other studies have used picture prompts to support direct and indirect questioning about the teacher: Kindergartner-Teacher Interaction Computer test (Spilt, Mantzicopoulos, & Koomen, 2010); Pictorial Measure of School Stress and Wellbeing (Harrison & Murray, 2015;O'Farrelly et al., 2020). A third approach is children's drawings or 'draw and talk' methods to elicit representational indices of STR (Einarsdóttir, Dockett, & Perry, 2009;Harrison et al., 2007;Longobardi Validation of child-reported STR is typically determined by comparison with teacher ratings on the STRS or the T-NRI. ...
Article
The relationships students form with their teachers are critical to children's early school adjustment and later school success. While previous research has relied on teachers' single-point ratings of student-teacher relationship (STR) quality, this study included data provided by children and teachers at two time-points in the kindergarten year. Children's drawings of themselves and their teacher were coded using Fury, Carlson, and Sroufe's (1997) attachment-based scoring of Relational Negativity. Children's feelings about their teacher were rated on the School Feelings Questionnaire (Bowes et al., 2009). Teachers completed the Student Teacher Relationship Scale (Pianta, 2001) and Teacher Rating Scale of School Adjustment (Birch & Ladd, 1997). Results showed that Relational Negativity at the start of school aligned with teachers' STR ratings, but by the end of the year, children's and teachers' ratings had diverged. Children were twice as likely as teachers to express increased negativity. Possible explanations for different perceptions of STR are proposed.
... It is possible that guided play may have more direct effects on outcomes that underpin children's learning, such as children's attitudes and approaches to learning (e.g., motivation, task persistence, and enjoyment). These outcomes were rarely assessed in the studies in this review, despite being salient to children's own descriptions of their early learning experiences (O'Farrelly et al., 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
This systematic review and meta-analysis considered evidence of guided play compared to direct instruction or free play to support children's learning and development. Interventions from 39 studies were reviewed (published 1977-2020); 17 were included in meta-analysis (Ntotal = 3893; Mchildage = 1-8 years; Mgirls 49.8%; Methnicity White 41%, African American/Black 28%, Hispanic 19%). Guided play had a greater positive effect than direct instruction on early maths skills (g = 0.24), shape knowledge (g = 0.63), and task switching (g = 0.40); and than free play on spatial vocabulary (g = 0.93). Differences were not identified for other key outcomes. Narrative synthesis highlighted heterogeneity in the conceptualization and implementation of guided play across studies.
... Early friendships are children's formative social experience outside the family, and once children start school, peer relationships more broadly, and friendships in particular, take on increasing significance for development. Even young children themselves appreciate the importance of having friends at school (Danby, Thompson, Theobald, & Thorpe, 2012;O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, & Barker, 2019), and by adolescence friendships are crucial for social and emotional wellbeing (Bagwell & Schmidt, 2013). While there is strong research tradition studying the role of family interactional styles on children's theory of mind (ToM) development (see Chapter 5 of this volume), very little research has examined the way in which ToM influences and is influenced by friendship relationships in middle childhood, with even less work examining these associations longitudinally or in adolescence. ...
... Yine yapılan başka bir çalışmada (Hong, Ra ve Jang, 2015) çocukların hediye almak, sevdikleriyle bir arada olmak, gezmek, yemek yemek, başarı elde etmek gibi durumlardan mutlu olduklarını sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Alanyazında bulunan diğer araştırmalar da benzer sonuçlar rapor etmektedir (Hwang, Kim ve Tak, 2013;O'Rourke, 2010;O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, Barker, 2020). Mevcut araştırma bulgusu ve alanyazındaki araştırma sonuçları birlikte değerlendirildiğinde çocukların sadece maddi doyumlara değer vermedikleri, aynı oranda aile ile birlikte olmak, arkadaşlarla zaman geçirmek gibi ilişkisel ve manevi doyumlara da önem verdikleri söylenebilir. ...
Article
Full-text available
Bu araştırmada ilkokul dördüncü sınıf öğrencilerinin mutluluk ile ilgili görüşlerinin incelenmesi amaçlanmıştır. Araştırmanın çalışma grubu 36 kız ve 42 erkek olmak üzere toplam 78 öğrenciden oluşmaktadır. Araştırma nitel modellerden olgu bilim deseninde tasarlanmıştır. Çalışmanın verileri araştırmacı tarafından geliştirilmiş olan yarı yapılandırılmış açık uçlu sorular ile toplanmıştır. Araştırmada elde edilen nitel veriler içerik analizi yöntemi ile analiz edilmiştir. İçerik analizi sonrasında dört ana tema ve çeşitli kategoriler belirlenmiştir. Ortaya çıkan temalar mutluğun tanımı, birlikte olmaktan mutlu olunan kişiler, mutlu eden durumlar ve mutluluğun zihinsel temsilleri şeklinde isimlendirilmiştir. Yapılan içerik analizi sonucuna göre çocukların mutluluğu gülümseme, eğlenme, sevilme, hayal kurma ve sevdikleri ile bir arada olmak şeklinde tanımladıkları görülmüştür. Diğer açıdan çocukları mutlu eden durumların neler olduğu incelendiğinde bazı çocukların hediye almak, oyun oynamak, yüzmek gibi maddi şeylerden mutlu oldukları görülürken bazılarının ise sevmek, değer görmek ve sevilmek gibi manevi şeylerden mutlu oldukları görülmüştür. Ayrıca çocuklar anne, baba, dede, öğretmen ve arkadaşlarının yanlarında olmalarından dolayı mutlu olduklarını ifade etmişlerdir. Diğer açıdan mevcut araştırma kapsamında çocukların mutluluk ile ilgili metaforik algıları incelenmiştir. Çocukların mutluluk kavramı ile ilgili üretmiş oldukları metaforlar incelendiği zaman bazı çocukların mutluluğu olumlu yaşantılar ve doyum verici kavramlarla ilişkilendirdiği ancak bazı çocukların mutlulukla ilgili olumsuz metaforlar ürettikleri görülmüştür. Sonuç olarak, çocukların mutluluk kavramına ilişkin çeşitli zihinsel imgelere sahip oldukları saptanmıştır. Elde edilen sonuçlar alanyazın ışığında tartışılmıştır.
... Yine yapılan başka bir çalışmada (Hong, Ra ve Jang, 2015) çocukların hediye almak, sevdikleriyle bir arada olmak, gezmek, yemek yemek, başarı elde etmek gibi durumlardan mutlu olduklarını sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Alanyazında bulunan diğer araştırmalar da benzer sonuçlar rapor etmektedir (Hwang, Kim ve Tak, 2013;O'Rourke, 2010;O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, Barker, 2020). Mevcut araştırma bulgusu ve alanyazındaki araştırma sonuçları birlikte değerlendirildiğinde çocukların sadece maddi doyumlara değer vermedikleri, aynı oranda aile ile birlikte olmak, arkadaşlarla zaman geçirmek gibi ilişkisel ve manevi doyumlara da önem verdikleri söylenebilir. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, it was aimed to examine the opinions of students about happiness in the fourth grade of primary school. The study group of the research consists of 78 students, 36 girls and 42 boys. The research was designed in a qualitative model and the data were collected by a form consisting of semi-structured open-ended questions. Qualitative data obtained in the study were analyzed by content analysis method. After the content analysis, four main themes and various categories were identified. According to the results of the content analysis, it was seen that children define happiness as smile, fun, love, dream and being together with their loved ones. On the other hand, when the situations that make children happy are examined, it is seen that some children are happy with material things like buying gifts, playing, swimming, while others are happy with spiritual things such as loving, valued and loved. In addition, the children stated that they were happy that the parents, grandparents, teachers and friends were with them. On the other hand, within the scope of the current research, metaphorical perceptions of children about happiness were examined. When the metaphors produced by children about the concept of happiness are examined, it is seen that some children associate happiness with positive experiences and satisfying concepts, but some children produce negative metaphors about happiness. As a result, it was found that children have formed a wide variety of mental images related to the concept of happiness. The results obtained are discussed in the light of the literature.
... Yine yapılan başka bir çalışmada (Hong, Ra ve Jang, 2015) çocukların hediye almak, sevdikleriyle bir arada olmak, gezmek, yemek yemek, başarı elde etmek gibi durumlardan mutlu olduklarını sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Alanyazında bulunan diğer araştırmalar da benzer sonuçlar rapor etmektedir (Hwang, Kim ve Tak, 2013;O'Rourke, 2010;O'Farrelly, Booth, Tatlow-Golden, Barker, 2020). Mevcut araştırma bulgusu ve alanyazındaki araştırma sonuçları birlikte değerlendirildiğinde çocukların sadece maddi doyumlara değer vermedikleri, aynı oranda aile ile birlikte olmak, arkadaşlarla zaman geçirmek gibi ilişkisel ve manevi doyumlara da önem verdikleri söylenebilir. ...
Article
Full-text available
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This study aims to determine the opinions of preschool teachers on preschool adaptation during the Covid-19 pandemic process and to determine what can be done to facilitate the adaptation of children to school in such negative situations. The research was carried out as a multiple case study with 22 preschool teachers working at private and governmental institutions in seven different regions of Turkey. The data were collected by means of phone conversations using an interview form prepared by the researchers. The results of the research determined that children's adaptation was affected by masks and social distance requirements, necessitating teachers to prepare their activities accordingly. Teachers' opinions about the effect of gradual transition on the adaptation process to the school were found to differ. The findings and results of the research are detailed in the study.
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This interim report presents the ongoing progress of a collaborative project between the Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education (CTEY), UCL Institute of Education and the Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University (BNU), which aims to (re)construct school readiness from Chinese children's perspectives. In this report, we first set out the context and rationale for carrying out this project (see Section 1). Then, we introduce the overarching research questions of this project, followed by a detailed account of the research design and the instruments for conducting research with young children (see Section 2). Subsequently, we report the pilot study we have conducted and present the preliminary findings (see Section 3). Finally, we outline the first round of fieldwork that has been carried out in seven early years settings of different backgrounds in Beijing (see Section 4), together with a timetable illustrating the next steps and upcoming milestones of this research project (see Section 5).
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This interim report presents the ongoing progress of a collaborative project between the Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education (CTEY), UCL Institute of Education and the Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University (BNU), which aims to (re)construct school readiness from Chinese children's perspectives. In this report, we first set out the context and rationale for carrying out this project (see Section 1). Then, we introduce the overarching research questions of this project, followed by a detailed account of the research design and the instruments for conducting research with young children (see Section 2). Subsequently, we report the pilot study we have conducted and present the preliminary findings (see Section 3). Finally, we outline the first round of fieldwork that has been carried out in seven early years settings of different backgrounds in Beijing (see Section 4), together with a timetable illustrating the next steps and upcoming milestones of this research project (see Section 5).
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Childhood Studies is a dynamic and still‐growing subject, bringing a child‐focused, rights‐based and (usually) constructionist perspective to children's lives. Its early days were also marked by wariness of, even hostility to, developmental psychology. Yet it is increasingly recognised that some mainstream developmental psychology is opening itself to more contextualised understandings of children and childhoods, and that other psychologies offer further opportunities for dialogue between disciplines. We aim to explore these opportunities, to consider what (and whether) these fields of study can learn from one another and how this might enrich and further challenge research and practice.
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While the concept of school readiness lacks a commonly agreed definition, Paula Brown analyses the findings of a recent report illuminating children's own perspectives on school readiness.
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This research aimed to examine whether and why children hold favorable self-conceptions (total N = 882 Dutch children, ages 8-12). Surveys (Studies 1-2) showed that children report strongly favorable self-conceptions. For example, when describing themselves on an open-ended measure, children mainly provided positive self-conceptions-about four times more than neutral self-conceptions, and about 11 times more than negative self-conceptions. Experiments (Studies 3-4) demonstrated that children report favorable self-conceptions, in part, to live up to social norms idealizing such self-conceptions, and to avoid seeing or presenting themselves negatively. These findings advance understanding of the developing self-concept and its valence: In middle and late childhood, children's self-conceptions are robustly favorable and influenced by both external (social norms) and internal (self-motives) forces.
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Starting school requires children to manage a wide range of personal, interpersonal and institutional expectations and challenges, yet few child-report measures have captured the diversity of these experiences. In this paper, the Pictorial Measure of School Stress and Wellbeing (PMSSW) interview was used with 101 school entrants at the beginning and end of the kindergarten year to explore children’s feelings about typical school events, reasons for these feelings, strategies for coping with these challenges, and the extent to which these perceptions changed over time. Results showed that the majority of children were positive about these aspects of school and did not change their feelings, but a minority were persistently negative, and up to 29 % became more negative over time. Responses varied by the type of event, with some being perceived as more challenging than others. The strategies children suggested for managing challenging events offered insights into their understanding and use of school rules and routines as a coping mechanism, particularly at the beginning of the school year. Over time, children showed greater use of personal strengths and abilities, their friendships with peers and their relationships with teachers to suggest effective strategies. These findings confirm the potential of the PMSSW as a tool for gathering children’s perceptions of wellbeing and coping at school. Through the use of methods that acknowledge and empower children, researchers and teachers can better appreciate and cater for individual differences in children’s experiences of school transition.
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Attempts to tackle problems such as smoking and obesity increasingly use complex interventions. These are commonly defined as interventions that comprise multiple interacting components, although additional dimensions of complexity include the difficulty of their implementation and the number of organisational levels they target.1 Randomised controlled trials are regarded as the gold standard for establishing the effectiveness of interventions, when randomisation is feasible. However, effect sizes do not provide policy makers with information on how an intervention might be replicated in their specific context, or whether trial outcomes will be reproduced. Earlier MRC guidance for evaluating complex interventions focused on randomised trials, making no mention of process evaluation.2 Updated guidance recognised the value of process evaluation within trials, stating that it “can be used to assess fidelity and quality of implementation, clarify causal mechanisms and identify contextual factors associated with variation in outcomes.”3 However, it did not provide guidance for carrying out process evaluation
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This paper looks at young children's creative thinking as inferred through observations of their activities. A total of 52 episodes of child-initiated and adult-initiated activities in 3- to 4-year-olds in an English Children's Centre were analysed using the Analysing Children's Creative Thinking (ACCT) Framework. Results showed that activities such as gardening and construction were as valuable for supporting creative thinking as ones traditionally associated with creativity, for example, music and painting. Outdoor play of all kinds and socio-dramatic play were particularly effective contexts. All adults played a significant role in facilitating children's initial engagement in activities, and at supporting their speculative thinking and use of prior knowledge. Teachers were often more successful than other adults in supporting the acquisition of new knowledge. Child-initiated activities featured the highest levels of involvement, and were associated with trying out and analysing ideas, flexibility and originality, imagining and hypothesising. This was particularly evident in group or pair play. Children were also more persistent in child-initiated activities. Evidence of risk-taking behaviour was low, although more apparent in child-initiated activities than adult-initiated activities, or activities in which adults were present.
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Young children's social information processing (SIP) encompasses a series of steps by which they make sense of encounters with other persons; both cognitive and emotional aspects of SIP often predict adjustment in school settings. More attention is needed, however, to the development of preschoolers' SIP and its potential foundations. To this end, a new preschool SIP measure, the Challenging Situations Task (CST), was utilized; preschoolers' (n = 316) self-reported emotional and behavioral responses to hypothetical peer provocation situations on the CST were assessed longitudinally, along with aspects of their self-regulation and emotion knowledge. Age and developmental differences in CST responses were examined. Next, contributions of executive control and emotion knowledge to CST responses were analyzed. Age differences in emotion and behavior choices showed that younger preschoolers were more prone to choose happy responses, whereas older preschoolers chose more adaptive behavior responses. Both self-regulation and emotion knowledge were associated with emotion and behavior responses concurrently and across time. Implications of these findings and suggestions for further research are discussed.
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The need-to-belong theory stipulates that social exclusion (e.g., being rejected by peers) impairs the ability to self-regulate and experimental studies with adults support this contention, at least on a short-term basis. Few studies have investigated whether social exclusion affects the development of self-regulation on children in a more enduring manner. By using data from a community sample of 762 children, we investigated reciprocal relations between social exclusion and self-regulation from age four to age six. Social exclusion was reported by teachers, whereas self-regulation was reported by parents. Autoregressive latent cross-lagged analyses showed that social exclusion predicted impaired development of dispositional self-regulation, and reciprocally, that poor self-regulation predicted enhanced social exclusion. Social exclusion and self-regulation reciprocally affect one another over time. Social exclusion undermines children's development of self-regulation, whereas poor self-regulation increases the likelihood of exclusion. Results illuminate the applied relevance of the need-to belong theory.
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Although several systematic reviews have concluded that home visiting has strong evidence of effectiveness, individual evaluations have produced inconsistent results. We used a component-based, domain-specific approach to determine which characteristics most strongly predict outcomes. Medline and PsycINFO searches were used to identify evaluations of universal and selective home visiting programs implemented in the United States. Coders trained to the study criterion coded characteristics of research design, program content, and service delivery. We conducted random-effects, inverse-variance-weighted linear regressions by using program characteristics to predict effect sizes on 6 outcome domains (birth outcomes, parenting behavior and skills, maternal life course, child cognitive outcomes, child physical health, and child maltreatment). Aggregated to a single effect size per study (k = 51), the mean effect size was 0.20 (95% confidence interval: 0.14 to 0.27), with a range of -0.68 to 3.95. Mean effect sizes were significant and positive for 3 of the 6 outcome domains (maternal life course outcomes, child cognitive outcomes, and parent behaviors and skills), with heterogeneity of effect sizes in all 6 outcome domains. Research design characteristics generally did not predict effect sizes. No consistent pattern of effective components emerged across all outcome domains. Home visiting programs demonstrated small but significant overall effects, with wide variability in the size of domain-specific effects and in the components that significantly predicted domain-specific effects. Communities may need complementary or alternative strategies to home visiting programs to ensure widespread impact on these 6 important public health outcomes.
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Growing awareness of the importance of healthy diet in early childhood makes it important to chart the development of children's understanding of food and drink. This study aimed to document young children's evaluation of food and drink as healthy, and to explore relationships with socioeconomic status, family eating habits, and children's television viewing. Data were gathered from children aged 3 to 5 years (n = 172) in diverse socioeconomic settings in Ireland, and from their parents. Results demonstrated that children had very high levels of ability to identify healthy foods as important for growth and health, but considerably less ability to reject unhealthy items, although knowledge of these increased significantly between ages 3 and 5. Awareness of which foods were healthy, and which foods were not, was not related to family socioeconomic status, parent or child home eating habits, or children's television viewing. Results highlighted the importance of examining young children's response patterns, as many of the youngest showed a consistent 'yes bias'; however, after excluding these responses, the significant findings remained. Findings suggest it is important to teach children about less healthy foods in the preschool years.
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Each year, as children start formal schooling, there are discussions between parents and educators about children who are, or are not, ‘ready for school’. The first section of this article examines issues of readiness, definitions of readiness, and considers some implications of decisions about children's readiness status. Following this, and in the context of different perspectives of readiness, the views of Australian children, parents and educators are considered. These views indicate some similarities between the expectations of parents and educators, and some differences between what children and adults regard as important in the transition to school. Implications for early childhood education and educators are considered.
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Although it is well understood that relationships are linked to healthy development and academic success, research on socialization during recess is limited. From the conceptual framework of belonging, an array of established measures was used to create an online anonymous survey specific to recess. This survey includes modified scales for belongingness, affect, and victimization and discrete items about the social and physical setting. The survey was completed by 520 students from grades 4 through 8. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses revealed an excellent fit of the belongingness scale to the data. Victimization related inversely to belongingness and positive affect and predicted negative affect and low belongingness. The article concludes with implications and recommendations for researchers and school-based professionals.
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Jonsson et al.'s excellent review of the literature on quality of life (QoL) and childhood mental and behavioural disorders (Jonsson et al., 2017) highlights the need for studies that utilise child self-reported QoL, in contrast to parent or proxy QoL measures, and further challenges the field to develop QoL measures that ‘put the child's own views and priorities first’.
Chapter
In the United States, there is a large and growing movement to promote school readiness by investing in the education and care of young children before they enter school. Yet, this investment will only lead to lasting change if early childhood interventions target the skills that matter most for children's short- and long-term development. This chapter examines the current definitions of school readiness, disparities in children's performance across these skills, and the extent to which school readiness predicts children's performance over time. It is recommended that the current framework for assessing school readiness may be strengthened by taking a more child-oriented approach that examines how children's skills across multiple domains operate in concert to promote development. The chapter concludes by discussing the importance of aligning early childhood interventions and policies to more comprehensive definitions of school readiness.
Chapter
For school psychologists, understanding how children and adolescents develop and learn forms a backdrop to their everyday work, but the many new ‘facts’ shown by empirical studies can be difficult to absorb; nor do they make sense unless brought together within theoretical frameworks that help to guide practice. In this chapter, we explore the idea that child and adolescent development is a moveable feast, across both time and place. This is aimed at providing a helpful perspective for considering the many texts and papers that do focus on ‘facts’. We outline how our understanding of children’s development has evolved as various schools of thought have emerged. While many of the traditional theories continue to provide useful educational, remedial and therapeutic frameworks, there is also a need to take a more critical approach that supports multiple interpretations of human activity and development. With this in mind, we re-visit the idea of norms and milestones, consider the importance of context, reflect on some implications of psychology’s current biological zeitgeist and note a growing movement promoting the idea that we should be listening more seriously to children’s own voices.
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Children’s use of the toilet at school, although rarely explored, is an important facet of school experience with consequences for physical and psychological health. A mixed methods study investigated views of 25 children (4–5 years) regarding potential stressors in the first school year, including views of toileting, in Dublin, Ireland. Despite very positive responses to school, most responses to toileting (15 of 25) were mixed or negative. Although some liked to go, or noted the toilets were clean, most indicated delayed toilet use (“bursting” to go) and ambivalent or negative experiences such as fear of not identifying the right toilet, fear of being alone, lack of privacy, and potential bullying. Many children did not expect to receive help from the teacher. As delaying toilet use can have lasting health consequences, teacher–nurse collaboration could be used to develop whole-school policies to support children’s early adjustment in this sensitive area of functioning.
Chapter
This chapter summarizes the extensive body of research that has examined associations between prekindergarten quality and children's school readiness, describes the methodological limitations and conceptual problems with these studies, and discusses the contributions of developmental theories to informing the design and structure of prekindergarten settings in ways that best support children's school readiness. The goal of this chapter is to refocus the definition of high-quality prekindergarten on those aspects of programs that directly impact children's development. The result will help to identify the policies and program improvement efforts that are most likely to amplify the impacts of attending prekindergarten on children's school readiness and their later success.
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Children from economically disadvantaged communities frequently lack the socio-emotional, cognitive and behavioural skills needed for successful early school adjustment. Assessments of early school experience often rely on parent and teacher perspectives, yet children’s views are essential to design effective, resilience-promoting school ecologies. This mixed methods study explored children’s appraisals of potential stressors in the first school year with 25 children from a disadvantaged suburban community in Ireland. School scenarios were presented pictorially (Pictorial Measure of School Stress and Wellbeing, or PMSSW), to elicit children’s perspectives on social ecological factors that enable or constrain resilience. Salient positive factors included resource provision, such as food, toys and books; school activities and routines, including play; and relationships with teachers. Negative factors included bullying; difficulties engaging with peers; and using the toilet. Drawing on these factors, we indicate how school psychologists can develop resilience-fostering educational environments for children in vulnerable communities.
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We examined the relations among children's effortful control, school liking, and academic competence with a sample of 240 7- to 12-year-old children. Parents and children reported on effortful control, and teachers and children assessed school liking. Children, parents, and teachers reported on children's academic competence. Significant positive correlations existed between children's effortful control, school liking, and academic competence. Consistent with predictions, and while controlling for the effects of parents' education and family income, school liking mediated the relation between effortful control and academic competence. Implications include a focus on proximal processes such as enhancing school liking and encouraging social relationships when designing interventions to promote academic competence.
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Efforts to give preschool children a head start on academic skills like reading and mathematics instead rob them of play time both at home and school. Indeed, the scientific evidence suggests that eliminating play from the lives of children is taking preschool education in the wrong direction. This brief but compelling book provides a strong counterargument to the rising tide of didactic instruction on preschool classrooms. The book presents scientific evidence in support of three points: children need both unstructured free time and playful learning under the gentle guidance of adults to best prepare for entrance into formal school; academic and social development are inextricably intertwined, so academic learning must not trump attention to social development; and learning and play are not incompatible. Rather, playful learning captivates children's minds in ways that support better academic and social outcomes as well as strategies for lifelong learning. This book reviews research supporting playful learning along with succinct policy and practice recommendations that derive from this research. © 2009 by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Laura E. Berk, and Dorothy G. Singer. All rights reserved.
Book
What is the nature of children's social life in school?. How do their relationships and interactions with peers, teachers and other school staff influence their development and experience of school? This book, written by leading researchers in educational and developmental psychology, provides answers to these questions by offering an integrated perspective on children's social interactions and relationships with their peers and teachers in school. Peer interactions in school have tended to be underestimated by educationalists, and this book redresses the balance by giving them equal weight to teacher-child interactions. In this second edition, the authors extensively revise the text on the basis of many years of research and teaching experience. They highlight common misconceptions about children, their social lives, and school achievement which have often resulted in ineffective school policy. The book includes a number of important topics, including: The significance of peer-friendships at school The nature and importance of play and break-times Aggression and bullying at school Peer relations and learning at school The classroom environment and teacher-pupil interaction The influence of gender in how children learn at school. Advantages and disadvantages of different methodological approaches for studying children in school settings Policy implications of current research findings. The Child at School will be essential reading for all students of child development and educational psychology. It will also be an invaluable source for both trainee and practicing teachers and teaching assistants, as well as clinical psychologists and policy makers in this area. © 2016 Peter Blatchford, Anthony D. Pellegrini and Ed Baines. All rights reserved.
Article
Self-concept research in early adolescence typically measures young people’s self-perceptions of competence in specific, adult-defined domains. However, studies have rarely explored young people’s own views of valued self-concept factors and their meanings. For two major self domains, the active and the social self, this mixed-methods study identified factors valued most by 526 young people from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds in Ireland (10-12 years), and explored the meanings associated with these in a stratified subsample (n = 99). Findings indicate that self-concept scales for early adolescence omit active and social self factors and meanings valued by young people, raising questions about content validity of scales in these domains. Findings also suggest scales may under-represent girls’ active and social selves; focus too much on some school-based competencies; and, in omitting intrinsically salient self domains and meanings, may focus more on contingent (extrinsic) rather than true (intrinsic) self-esteem.
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For several decades, researchers have examined how children develop autobiographical memory, demonstrating that even young children report useful information about their experiences. However, the way adults question children influences profoundly the amount and nature of what children report. This research is relevant for the many contexts in which children are questioned (e.g., criminal investigations, courtroom proceedings, clinical settings). In this article, we briefly review developmental changes in how children respond to various kinds of questions. And we reflect on the implications for research and practice when children are interviewed to determine what they have experienced.
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Poor children are at greater risk for worse health, less productivity, and harms to well-being that extend into adulthood and subsequent generations. Timing and duration of poverty matter and influence life course outcomes, especially for education, health, and lifetime productivity. This article focuses on interventions by policy advocacy and the pediatric health system, and protection of the health and well-being of families in economic hardship from disadvantages and trauma wrought by poverty. A framework is presented for child poverty prevention and its consequences for lifelong health and success on a national scale. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Article
This paper provides a framework for developing sampling designs in mixed methods research. First, we present sampling schemes that have been associated with quantitative and qualitative research. Second, we discuss sample size considerations and provide sample size recommendations for each of the major research designs for quantitative and qualitative approaches. Third, we provide a sampling design typology and we demonstrate how sampling designs can be classified according to time orientation of the components and relationship of the qualitative and quantitative sample. Fourth, we present four major crises to mixed methods research and indicate how each crisis may be used to guide sampling design considerations. Finally, we emphasize how sampling design impacts the extent to which researchers can generalize their findings. Key Words: Sampling Schemes, Qualitative Research, Generalization, Parallel Sampling Designs, Pairwise Sampling Designs, Subgroup Sampling Designs, Nested Sampling Designs, and Multilevel Sampling Designs
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Systematic, mandated facilitation of school transitions is an important but understudied aspect of the Reggio-Emilia approach to early childhood education admired internationally as best practice. We studied the links between Northern Italian transition practices and academic achievement, school liking, cooperativeness, and problem behaviors. We followed 288 students across a transition from preschool to elementary school. Schools varied in their implementation of transition practices. High implementation of Reggio-type transition practices was related to significantly more school liking and significantly fewer problem behaviors after the transition. At follow-up at the end of the post-transition year, high-implementation schools were still characterized by lower levels of problem behavior. These data indicate that the facilitation of school transitions in the Reggio-Emilia tradition is associated with successful post-transition adjustment.
Article
This study explores how children's perceptions of stress factors and coping strategies are constructed over time. Children were interviewed before and after they made the transition from preschool to primary school. This study also explores teachers' and parental strategies in helping children to cope with stress at school. The sample included 53 six-year-old children, their parents and teachers. The findings show that children generally could make accurate predictions of unhappy things that might happen during the transition to primary school. Children reported being incompetent in fulfilling teachers' expectations regarding learning, self-help skills and conforming to rules. Children also reported peer conflicts and being nervous about authority. Children learned direct problem-solving skills, seeking social support and emotional regulation at preschool, but had only used the first two coping strategies at school. A majority of parents thought that transition problems affected children's emotions, whereas most teachers thought that transition problems affected children's learning.
Article
Drawing from ethnographic research conducted with 21 former Head Start children as they made the transition to public school, we examined how notions of their "risk" or "promise" as students were constructed through specific discourses and practices in 14 kindergarten classrooms. Informed by cultural production and practice theory, we view students not only as shaped by classroom structures and larger social processes but also as agents who actively coproduce with teachers notions of themselves and ways of acting in school that can lead to risk or promise. The 2 main questions we address in this article are (1) what discourses and practices in the cultural world of kindergarten work to construct students in particular ways, and (2) what are teachers' and children's novel productions in this world that have implications for a child's school trajectory. Although we found many examples of positive interactions between students and teachers, we saw some practices that could contribute to early school failure. Teacher practices that worked best for nonprototypical students included high expectations, an emphasis on what-children could do, praise, gentle redirection of inappropriate behavior, and a caring attitude. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for reconceptualizing risk and promise.
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This interpretive report for the DP-3 is designed to aid in screening, diagnosis, treatment planning, and communication with parents. The user should be familiar with the material presented in the DP-3 Manual (WPS Product No. W-462C). As with any assessment tool, no final diagnostic or treatment decisions should be made solely on the basis of the DP-3 alone without confirming information from independent sources.
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The primary purpose of the present study was to better understand the roles of motivation and self-regulated task behavior for early school achievement differences among young, economically at-risk and not-at-risk children. Of the at-risk participants, 43 were 5-6-year-olds and 42 were 7-8-year-olds. Of the not-at-risk participants, 21 were 6-year-olds, and 21 were 8-year-olds. Results of the study showed that child-and-teacher-reported motivation levels were comparable among the at-risk and the not-at-risk children. However, the at-risk children showed poorer abilities to regulate their task attention than the not-at-risk children did. In addition, younger at-risk children's achievement scores were predicted by their levels of attention-regulation abilities. Results are discussed in relation to the importance of at-risk children's attention-regulation skills.
Article
This article explores the research implications of using multi-methods within a broad qualitative approach by drawing on the experience of conducting two childhood obesity-focused qualitative studies of Australian children’s perceptions and experiences of place, space and physical activity. Children described and depicted their physical activities and experiences: in focus group interviews, by mapping their local, social and recreational spaces and by photographing their meaningful places, spaces and activities using a Photovoice approach. The authors describe, reflect on and critique their chosen research approach, discussing the value, utility and pitfalls associated with using multiple methods with children. The article concludes that using multiple methods in researching children’s experiences is a valuable approach that does not merely duplicate data but also offers complementary insights and understandings that may be difficult to access through reliance on a single method of data collection.
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This paper presents a dynamic, ecologically informed approach to conceptualizing and studying the transition to formal schooling. This perspective acknowledges that early school transitions play an important role in later school success; theorizes that a full understanding of child competence must examine the influence of the relationships among child characteristics and home, school, peer, family, and neighborhood contexts; and, most importantly, examines how these relationships change over time. This approach recommends that future policy, practice, and research be based on the following three premises. First, the transition to school must be conceptualized in terms of relationships between children and their surrounding contexts, such as schools, peers, families, and neighborhoods. Second, the measurement of children's readiness for school must acknowledge the combined influence of school, home, peers, and neighborhood contexts, the relationship among such contexts, and their direct and indirect effects on children. Third, and most specific to this paper, the examination of this transition period must address how contexts and relationships change over time, and how change and stability in these relationships form key aspects of children's transition to school. Ultimately, research informed by these principles may advise policy and practice on transition to school in normative and high-risk populations.
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Deprivation early in life has multiple long term consequences for both the individual and society. An increasing body of evidence finds that targeted, early interventions aimed at at-risk children and their families can reduce socioeconomic inequalities in children’s skills and capabilities. This paper describes a randomised control trial (RCT) evaluation of a five-year preventative programme which aims to improve the school readiness skills of socioeconomically disadvantaged children. The Preparing for Life (PFL) programme is one of the first studies in Ireland to use random assignment to experimentally modify the environment of high risk families and track its impact over time. This paper describes the design and motivation for the study, the randomisation procedure adopted and the baseline data collected. Using Monte Carlo permutation testing, it finds that the randomisation procedure was successful as there are no systematic differences between the treatment and control groups at baseline. This indicates that future analysis of treatment effects over the course of the five year evaluation can be causally attributed to the programme and used to determine the impact of Preparing for Life on children’s school readiness skills
Article
The aim of this research was to study the prevalence of bullying in early educational settings in Finnish kindergartens. In addition, the study investigated whether bullying in kindergartens differs from school bullying and what forms bullying takes among under-school-age children. Two kinds of data were collected for the study: data from a survey of day care staff in the City of Vantaa (n = 770, involving 6910 children) and data from interviews of children, day care staff and parents (n = 114). The results of this study indicate that systematic bullying does occur among under-school-age children. The interviews showed that bullying among children under school-age appears to be a rather similar phenomenon to that of school bullying. According to our study, 12.6% of children (age three to six years) in day care were involved in bullying in one way or another. The most common form of bullying was exclusion from peer relationships. Moreover, according to our results, children in early childhood education talked about bullying as an everyday phenomenon and its content varied only slightly from adults' speech on the topic.
Article
As support for intervening early in the lives of vulnerable children has risen in the United States in recent years, so has interest in home-visitation programs. Home visitation is increasingly recognized for its potential to foster early child development and competent parenting, as well as to reduce risk for child abuse and neglect and other poor outcomes for vulnerable families.This paper provides a discussion of several aspects of home-visitation programs that warrant further development and evaluation, including the powerful role of context in determining program outcomes, as well as the impact of other factors, including service dosage, levels of family engagement, and characteristics of home visitors. The importance of more accurately understanding and measuring risk and engaging family members beyond the mother–child dyad is also discussed. Recommendations are made for making improvements in all of these areas, in order to strengthen home-visitation programs and produce better outcomes for the children and families they serve. Aspects of Nurse Family Partnership and Early Head Start, two widely replicated and rigorously evaluated programs, are highlighted to demonstrate how the issues discussed here are likely to affect service delivery and program outcomes. The multiple challenges inherent in replicating and evaluating home-visitation programs that are truly responsive to the needs of a wide array of families with young children are examined. This discussion concludes with a call to expand and improve methods for evaluating these programs, and to view home visitation as a component of a comprehensive system of child and family supports, rather than as a stand-alone model of intervention.
Article
We observed 223 largely suburban or rural public school kindergarten classrooms in 3 states to describe classroom activities and child-teacher interactions involving I child per classroom. We also observed global classroom quality and assessed its relation to teacher, school, classroom, and family characteristics and target child outcomes. Classrooms were observed once for 3 hours starting at the beginning of the school day. Time samplings of activities, teacher behaviors, and child behaviors as well as global ratings of teacher-target child interactions and the classroom environment were obtained. The most frequently observed forms of activity were structured teacher-directed activity and whole-group instruction. There was tremendous variation in the occurrence of these activities across classrooms, ranging from 0% to 100% of the observation period. Global ratings of teachers' positive interactions with the target child, classroom instructional climate, and classroom child-centered climate were lower when the concentration of poverty in the school was high, when the target child's family income was low, and when the number of staff available to work with children in that classroom was low. Target students' observed social and on-task behavior and teachers' reports of social and academic competence for target children were higher when these global ratings indicated higher quality, even controlling for family background factors. These data may have implications for educational policies on class size and composition, and issues of equity in early school experiences.
Article
The purpose of this study was to further explore the linkage between children's early school attitudes and interpersonal features of the classroom, including children's relationships with classmates and their perceptions of these relationships. Participants included 102 kindergarten children (M age= 5.8 years) who were interviewed at the beginning and end of kindergarten to obtain measures of their school attitudes (i.e., school liking), classroom peer relationships (i.e., peer acceptance, mutual friendships), and peer relationship perceptions (i.e., perceived loneliness, peer support). Results showed that initial school liking was associated with all four measures of children's peer relationships; however, only the number of mutual friendships that children possessed in their classrooms predicted changes in school attitudes (gains) over time. Early school attitudes were linked to changes in children's peer perceptions; children who disliked school early in kindergarten were more likely to view classmates as unsupportive as the school year progressed. Results are discussed in terms of the potential impact that classroom peer relations may have on early school attitudes, and vice versa. Implications for educational policy are also considered.
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The place of play in the education of young children has been the focus of much interest in the past. But the findings from this research project demonstrate that there remains a significant amount of confusion about the role that play has in young children's education. In particular we found that there is a clear distinction between the rhetoric and reality of play in the reception class. Further, there was evidence of real anguish for some early years workers who were failing to offer the play activities that they knew should be provided. These findings are particularly interesting at present, since the debate on the role of play has once again emerged as fundamental in the attempt to define a curriculum appropriate to the needs of the 3-6 year olds who, from the year 2000, will be required to work within the highly contentious Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum.
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A growing literature points to the importance of children's relationships with their teachers as a factor influencing attitudinal, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of school adjustment. However, such data may be confounded when the same teacher rates school adjustment as well as relationship quality. The present study sought to address this problem by investigating direct (self-reported feelings about the teacher) and indirect (representations through drawings) procedures to assess children's perspectives on the relationship. Self-report questions were adapted from measures of school liking and maternal acceptance. Drawings applied Fury's system for describing relational negativity in child–family drawings. Results, based on a sample of 125 six-year-olds, showed significant associations between children's reports/drawings and teacher-rated relationship quality and school adjustment. Negativity in child–teacher drawings was a particularly salient correlate, suggesting that children's representations of relationships can provide a useful independent means of identifying relationship or adjustment difficulties at school.