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Assessing quality in toddler classrooms using the CLASS-Toddler and the ITERS-R
La Paro, Karen M., August, 2014
Early Education and Development, 25(6), 875-893

Many very young children attend early care and education programs, but current information about the quality of center-based care for toddlers is scarce. Using 2 observation instruments, the Infant-Toddler Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ITERS-R) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, Toddler Version (CLASS-Toddler), 93 child care classrooms for toddlers across the state of North Carolina, representing a range of quality, were assessed to determine overall quality, and associations between observed quality and teachers' ratings of child behavior problems and competence outcomes using the Brief Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment. Research Findings: Findings indicated that overall, toddler classrooms were rated as being of moderate quality. Associations between observed quality and teacher-reported child behavior problems and competence outcomes indicated that CLASS-Toddler ratings were positively associated with fewer behavior problems; specifically, children in classrooms with higher levels on the CLASS-Toddler domains of Emotional and Behavioral Support as well as Engaged Support for Learning were reported to have fewer behavior problems. Similarly, the ITERS-R subscales of Interaction and Listening and Talking were positively related to fewer reported behavior problems. Regression models showed that the CLASS-Toddler Emotional and Behavioral Support domain predicted differences in child behavior problems. (author abstract)

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Attachment to inanimate objects and early childcare: A twin study
Fortuna, Keren, 22 May, 2014
Frontiers in Psychology, 5(), 1-7

Extensive non-maternal childcare plays an important role in children's development. This study examined a potential coping mechanism for dealing with daily separation from caregivers involved in childcare experience -- children's development of attachments toward inanimate objects. We employed the twin design to estimate relative environmental and genetic contributions to the presence of object attachment, and assess whether childcare explains some of the environmental variation in this developmental phenomenon. Mothers reported about 1122 3-year-old twin pairs. Variation in object attachment was accounted for by heritability (48%) and shared environment (48%), with childcare quantity accounting for 2.2% of the shared environment effect. Children who spent half-days in childcare were significantly less likely to attach to objects relative to children who attended full-day childcare. (author abstract)

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Child care teachers' perspectives on including children with challenging behavior in child care settings
Quesenberry, Amanda C., July-September 2014
Infants and Young Children, 27(3), 241-258

In this study, 9 teachers from 5 child care centers were interviewed to examine their perceptions on including children with challenging behavior in their classrooms. The findings provide a firsthand view into how child care teachers support children's social and emotional development and address challenging behavior. Results confirm previous research that suggests that challenging behavior is a significant issue for teachers in child care programs. Participating teachers discussed numerous strategies that they used to address challenging behavior; however, few strategies were implemented in an intentional and/or individualized manner. These findings highlight the need for increased professional development for child care teachers to support young children's social and emotional development and effectively prevent and address children's challenging behavior. (author abstract)

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A cross-cultural examination of preschool teacher cognitions and responses to child aggression
Pochtar, Randi, April, 2014
School Psychology International, 35(2), 176-190

The associations among preschool teachers' attributions about child responsibility, intentionality, knowledge, and the seriousness of hypothetical displays of children's aggressive behavior are examined in United States (N=82) and Vietnamese (N=91) preschool teachers. The results suggest cross-cultural differences as well as similarities in the relations among preschool teachers' cognitions, affect, and disapproval of physical aggression. Teachers' perceptions of the seriousness of and their negative affective responses to aggression, but not their beliefs about intent, predict teacher disapproval for both Vietnamese and US samples. Cross-cultural comparisons indicate in general US teachers express more negative attributions about, and Vietnamese teachers endorse more disapproval of, child aggression. Although the overall cognitive model is consistent across cultures, cross-cultural differences are found on teacher perception and responses to child aggression. It is important to consider such group differences in light of considerations to employ Western educational models or psychological interventions with individuals in non-Western countries. (author abstract)

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Executive summary: Impact findings from the Head Start CARES demonstration: National evaluation of three approaches to improving preschoolers' social and emotional competence
United States. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, June, 2014
(OPRE Report 2014-44). Washington, DC: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.

The Head Start CARES (Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill promotion) demonstration tests three distinct approaches to enhancing children's social-emotional development on a large scale within the Head Start system -- the largest federally funded early-childhood education program in the United States. Conceived and sponsored by the Office of Head Start and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Head Start CARES demonstration was conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, in collaboration with MEF Associates and several academic partners. The three social-emotional approaches tested in Head Start CARES were called "enhancements" because they complemented and enriched classroom practices that already existed. The effects, or "impacts," of the enhancements were rigorously evaluated by randomly assigning approximately 100 Head Start centers to one of the three enhancements (the program group) or to a control group that continued with "business as usual." Therefore, estimated impacts should be interpreted as the effects of the enhancements over and above any effects of the existing Head Start program in these sites. As described in an earlier report on the Head Start CARES demonstration, a comprehensive professional development system for teachers -- including four to six training sessions, weekly coaching sessions in the classroom, a "real-time" management information system (MIS) to support monitoring, and technical assistance -- supported the scale-up of the enhancements around the country. The teacher training and coaching were generally implemented as intended, supporting satisfactory implementation (a rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 5) of the social-emotional enhancements in Head Start classrooms and leading to the expected influences on teachers' practices, which are described below. Thus, it appears that the demonstration ensured a fair test of large-scale implementation of the three enhancements, providing a sound basis for evaluating their impact on children and classrooms in the Head Start system. This report presents the impacts of the three enhancements tested in the Head Start CARES demonstration. It focuses on outcomes in the spring of the preschool year for (1) teachers' practices; (2) the climate of the classroom; (3) children's behavior regulation, executive function skills, knowledge and understanding of emotions ("emotion knowledge"), and social problem-solving skills; and (4) children's learning behaviors and social behaviors. In addition to changing teachers' practices, two of the three enhancements had consistent positive impacts on a range of children's social-emotional outcomes, although not necessarily in ways that would be expected according to the theories of change that the CARES team developed. The Head Start CARES study thus demonstrates that preschool children's social-emotional outcomes can be improved when evidence-based approaches -- that is, approaches that have been shown to result in differences in children's social and emotional outcomes -- are implemented at scale with appropriate supports. The report also includes an exploratory set of findings, which have not been previously tested for these enhancements, about whether the enhancements might improve children's early academic skills in preschool and whether they have any sustained effects as preschool children make the transition to elementary school. (author abstract)

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Impact findings from the Head Start CARES demonstration: National evaluation of three approaches to improving preschoolers' social and emotional competence
United States. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, June, 2014
(Research Snapshot OPRE Report 2014-44). Washington, DC: U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.

The Head Start CARES demonstration evaluated the effects of three distinct classroom-based approaches to enhancing children's social-emotional development on a large scale. The Incredible Years Teacher Training Program focuses on teachers' management of the classroom and of children's behavior. Preschool PATHS uses structured lessons to help children learn about emotions and interact with peers appropriately. Tools of the Mind--Play is a one-year version of the Tools curriculum that promotes children's learning through structured "make-believe" play. A comprehensive professional development package (including teacher training, ongoing coaching, and related technical assistance) supported delivery of the enhancements over the course of one year. The demonstration was conducted with 17 Head Start grantees that generally represent the diversity of Head Start settings nationally. Head Start CARES rigorously evaluated the impacts of the interventions, or "enhancements," by randomly assigning approximately 100 Head Start centers within the grantees to a program group that received one of the interventions or to a control condition without any of them. The estimated impacts should be interpreted as the effects of the enhancements beyond any effects of the existing Head Start program in these classrooms. Head Start CARES tested each enhancement's impacts on teachers' practices and on children's outcomes in the spring of the preschool year, comparing those impacts with the team's theory of change for each approach. (author abstract)

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Road to readiness: Pathways from low-income children's early interactions to school readiness skills
Martoccio, Tiffany L., July-September 2014
Infants and Young Children, 27(3), 193-206

This study utilized data from the Michigan component of the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation study to examine toddlers' joint attention at 14 months (parent report measure of toddlers' initiating behaviors, e.g., extends arm to show you something he or she is holding, reaches out and gives you a toy he or she has been holding, and points at something interesting) as a mediator of the relations between early mother-child interactions (e.g., mother and child behaviors in response to one another's cues) and later school readiness skills in a low-income sample (N = 127 mother-child dyads). Understanding relations between early parent-child interactions, joint attention, and later school readiness skills is critical to identifying developmental paths of economically at-risk children. Results showed that toddlers' joint attention behaviors at 14 months partially mediated the path between mother-child interaction at 14 months and later school readiness, measured by children's emotion regulation, social-cognition, language development, and literacy and mathematics academic outcomes, at approximately 5 years of age. Results suggest the important roles of early mother-child interactions in low-income families and joint attention in promoting school readiness skills. (author abstract)

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'Talking bodies': Power and counter-power between children and adults in day care
Amot, Ingvild, May, 2014
Childhood, 21(2), 260-273

The article examines how children use bodily expressions as an instrument of power and a method of being heard when adults place them in positions of powerlessness in everyday life practice. The main focus is on children with social difficulties. The article focuses on children and adults in situations during time spent outdoors. The findings show that children and staff have different perceptions of what is desirable, and that they use different power mechanisms to change or maintain the power of definition. (author abstract)

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The teacher's role in supporting young children's level of play engagement
Singer, Elly, August, 2014
Early Child Development and Care, 184(8), 1233-1249

This paper discusses the results of a study of the relationships between teacher behaviour and the level of play engagement in two- and three-year-old children in Dutch childcare centres. We found that the continuous proximity of the teacher had the greatest impact on the level of play engagement, while the teacher's walking around and only brief contacts with the children had a negative impact. In line with earlier studies, two-sided and reciprocal interactions between teacher and children also yielded positive results for play engagement. Both our quantitative and qualitative analyses showed a strong co-variation of variables. When the teacher paid only brief visits, and peers also walked in and out, there was a greater likelihood of one-sided interactions, When the teacher was always nearby, we observed the opposite. Dutch teachers spend most of their time walking around. Their pedagogy seems to be based on a model of individual care and control and insensitiveness of group dynamic processes. (author abstract)

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Research Connections is supported by grant #90YE0104 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Center for Children in Poverty and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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