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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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Integrative Consensus: A systematic approach to integrating comprehensive assessment data for young children with behavior problems
Shernoff, Elisa S., April-June 2014
Infants and Young Children, 27(2), 92-110

Comprehensive assessments that include parents and teachers are essential when assessing young children vulnerable to emotional and behavioral problems given the multiple systems and contexts that influence and support optimal development (U. Bronfenbrenner & P. A. Morris, 2006; M. J. Guralnick, 2011). However, more data complicate clinical and educational decision making given the challenge of integrating comprehensive data. We report on initial efforts to develop and apply Integrative Consensus procedures designed to synthesize comprehensive assessment data using developmentally informed guidelines. Mother--teacher dyads (N = 295) reported on disruptive behavior in a sample of 295 low-income 3- to 5-year-olds; one-third referred for disruptive behaviors, one-third nonreferred with behavioral concerns, and one-third nonreferred. Two clinicians trained in Integrative Consensus procedures independently applied the framework, with findings highlighting that children identified as disruptive by Integrative Consensus ratings plus mother or teacher ratings significantly predicted behavior problems and impaired social skills. Children identified as disruptive via Integrative Consensus were 4 times more likely to be rated as impaired by their mother at follow-up than by mother or teacher report. Reliability estimates were high ([kappa] = 0.84), suggesting that the method has promise for identifying young children with behavior problems while systematically integrating comprehensive data. (author abstract)

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Outdoor day-care centres - a culturalization of nature: How do children relate to nature as educational practice?
Melhuus, E. Cathrine, September, 2012
European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 20(3), 455-467

This article will discuss how children and adults experience a certain outdoor environment as part of an educational practice, through the activities the adults and children have. It will further discuss how these activities realize cultural values through the educators' and children's activities. In Norway the use of outdoor environments has become increasingly central as part of the pedagogical/educational practice (in both schools and kindergartens). The outdoor kindergartens in Norway are organized in different ways, the common feature being that the educationist and the children are outdoors the most of the day, every day, in all sorts of weather. The outdoor kindergartens leave traces in natural environments surrounding rural and urban districts that signify educational practice that can seem as opposed to ordinary kindergartens. This article is based on fieldwork in a Norwegian outdoor kindergarten. Room and place are crucial to people who inhabit them. Gagen (2000, 213) says the following: Learning environments, then, are often places through which children become aware of, and begin reproducing, social identities that circulate through broader social space. Natural environments can be thought of as places free of defined structures that dictates how the place is used. But as soon as a place is populated certain structures will be established. My study of an outdoor kindergarten shows that children structured the place and the artefacts so that they became part of the children's understanding of the social life they were a part of. Through play children make connections between the forest space and 'the modern world', building bridges between different contexts, or one could say recontextualize the given space. At the same time as children were seen to cross boarders, they also seemed to hold on to other social contexts, gender being one of them. So nature can constrain given notions instead of freeing them, maybe because nature as such has a conservative influence, by not having any structures that provoke common thinking? (author abstract)

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Predicting service use for mental health problems among young children
Wichstrom, Lars, June, 2014
Pediatrics, 133(6), 1054-1060

Objective: To identify sociodemographic, child, parent, and day care provider factors at age 4 that predict Norwegian children's service use for mental health problems at age 7. Method: Two birth cohorts of 4-year-old children and their parents living in the city of Trondheim, Norway, were invited (82% consented). We successfully interviewed 995 parents among 1250 drawn to participate using the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment to set diagnoses and record parental burden and service use. Information concerning sociodemographics, child impairment, parental social support, and child need for mental health services according to parents, day care teacher, and health nurse were obtained. Results: Rate of service use among those with a behavioral or emotional disorder was 10.7% at age 4 and 25.2% at age 7. Behavioral disorders (odds ratio [OR] 2.6, confidence interval [CI] 1.3-5.3), but not emotional disorders, predicted service use. When adjusted for incapacity (OR 1.3, CI 1.2-1.6), disorders were no longer predictive. Incapacity, in turn, was not predictive once parental burden (OR 1.1, CI 1.0-1.1) and parents' (OR 2.7, CI 1.0-7.9) and day care teachers' (OR 2.1, CI 1.4-3.2) judgment of child need of help were included. Lower socioeconomic status predicted more service use over and beyond these factors (OR 3.0, CI 1.5-6.1). Conclusions: Behavioral disorders may instigate service use if they result in impairment, and such impairment may operate via increased parental burden and parent and caregiver problem recognition. Service use may be increased through effective screening programs and efforts to increase day care teachers' recognition of emotional problems. (author abstract)

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Preschoolers' emotion expression and regulation: Relations with school adjustment
Herndon, Kristina J., November, 2013
The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 174(6), 642-663

Children's expression and regulation of emotions are building blocks of their experiences in classrooms. Thus, the authors' primary goal was to investigate whether preschoolers' expression or ability to regulate emotions were associated with teachers' ratings of school adjustment. A secondary goal was to investigate how boys and girls differed across these associations. Children's social-emotional behaviors in Head Start and private childcare center classrooms were observed, and using a series of measures, teachers' ratings of children's social competence, attitudes toward school, positive teacher relationships, and cooperative participation were collected. Three factors of children's school adjustment were extracted from these indicators. A series of hierarchical regressions revealed that emotion expression and regulation were indeed associated with children's reported school adjustment, with the strongest associations stemming from children's negative emotion expression and their emotion dysregulation. Many of these associations were also different for boys and girls. The results corroborate and extend the authors' earlier findings, and have implications for social-emotional programming to maximize children's early school success. (author abstract)

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Reliability and validity of a measure of preschool teachers' attributions for disruptive behavior
Carter, Lauren M., October, 2014
Early Education and Development, 25(7), 949-972

This study examined the quality of teacher attributions for child disruptive behavior using a new measure, the Preschool Teaching Attributions measure. A sample of 153 early childhood teachers and 432 children participated. All teachers completed the behavior attributions measure, as well as measures regarding demographics, beliefs, self-efficacy, child behavior, and the quality of the teacher-child relationship with selected children. Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that the hypothesized 2-factor model fit significantly better than a 1-factor model, with the 2 factors being Causal and Responsibility. The resulting Causal and Responsibility subscale scores had solid internal consistency as measured by Cronbach's alpha coefficients. Significant bivariate and partial correlations with teacher practices and beliefs provided preliminary support for the measure's construct validity. Practice or Policy: Findings from this study suggest the importance of including a measure of teacher attributions in studies that explore teachers' beliefs, practices, and relationships with children. (author abstract)

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Shyness, child-teacher relationships, and socio-emotional adjustment in a sample of Italian preschool-aged children
Sette, Stefania, May/June 2014
Infant and Child Development, 23(3), 323-332

The purpose of the present study was to examine the moderating role of child-teacher relationship quality (i.e., closeness, conflict, and dependence) in the association between children's shyness and indices of socio-emotional adjustment and maladjustment. The participants were Italian preschool children (63 boys; 66 girls) and two lead teachers per classroom (N= 7 classrooms). In each classroom, one teacher, randomly selected, evaluated the quality of the child-teacher relationship; the other evaluated children's social competence and maladjustment. Peer liking was measured using a sociometric procedure. Parents provided an assessment of their children's shyness. Shyness was positively related to teacher-reported rejection and internalizing problems whereas shyness was negatively associated with closeness and conflict with teachers. Moreover, closeness, conflict, and dependence in the child-teacher relationship moderated the links between children shyness and indices of preschool social competence and maladjustment. For example, among children with low levels of closeness, shyness was negatively associated with teacher-reported social competence and positively related to teacher-reported peer rejection. At very high levels of dependence, there was a negative relation between shyness and social competence. The findings suggest that a positive child-teacher relationship may be a protective factor in avoiding social maladjustment in Italian scuole d'infanzia, where most pupils remain with the same teacher for 3 years. (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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Validation of the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale with preschool children in low-income families in Hong Kong
Leung, Chi-hung, January, 2014
Early Child Development and Care, 184(1), 118-137

Play is a primary context for fostering young children's positive peer interactions. Through play, children develop the social, emotional, cognitive and language skills that contribute to the ability to establish effective relationships with peers. The Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale (PIPPS) was first developed by Fantuzzo to assess the quality of peer interactions among low-income preschoolers in the USA. The present study invited 1622 children aged three to six and 152 teachers in 10 kindergartens in districts with high child poverty rates in Hong Kong to participate in the study (a) to validate the psychometric properties of a culturally, developmentally and linguistically appropriate version of the PIPPS using confirmatory factor analysis, (b) to investigate gender and (c) age differences in peer play, and (d) to inform early childhood intervention for children in low income families. Translation and back-translation - a commonly used procedure in the translation of cross-cultural research instruments - was adopted. Results indicated that the three-factor model of the PIPPS (play interaction, play disruption and play disconnection) statistically fit the results in the Hong Kong sample. Girls exhibited greater play interaction and less play disruption and play disconnection. Peer interactive play behaviour increased with age. The cultural and linguistic contexts of scale development should receive attention in future research. Recommendations are made regarding lexical access in non alphabetical language systems like Chinese; cultural understandings of shyness, withdrawal and social disinterest as they relate to the interpretation of play behaviour; and establishing the concurrent validity of the Hong Kong version of the PIPPS. (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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