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Emotional climate and behavioral management during sleep time in early childhood education settings

The majority of children cease napping between 3 and 5 years of age yet, internationally, the allocation of a sleep time during the day for children of this age remains a practice in many early childhood education (ECE) settings. These dual circumstances present a disjuncture between children's sleep needs and center practices, that may cause conflict for staff, increase stress for children and escalate negative emotional climate in the room. Testing this hypothesis requires observation of both the emotional climate and behavioral management used in ECE rooms that extends into the sleep time. This study was the first to apply the Classroom Assessment and Scoring System (CLASS) Pre-K (Pianta, La Paro, & Hamre, 2008) to observe the emotional climate and behavioral management during sleep time. Pilot results indicated that the CLASS Pre-K functioned reliably to measure emotional climate and behavioral management in sleep time. However, new sleep-specific examples of the dimensions used were developed, to help orient field workers to the CLASS Pre-K rating system in the sleep time context. The CLASS was then used to assess emotional climate and behavior management between the non-sleep and sleep time sessions, in 113 ECE rooms in Queensland, Australia. In these rooms 2.114 children were observed. Of these children, 71% did not sleep at any point during the allotted sleep times. There was a significant drop in emotional climate and behavioral management between the non-sleep and sleep-time sessions. Furthermore, the duration of mandated sleep time (a period of time where no activities are provided to non-sleeping children) accounted for significant independent variance in the observed emotional climate during sleep-time. The CLASS Pre-K presents a valuable tool to assess the emotional climate and behavior management during sleep-time and draws attention to the need for further studies of sleep time in ECE settings. (author abstract)
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