Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


For 4-year-olds, interactions with teacher key to gains

Pre-kindergartners who spend much of their classroom day engaged in so-called free-choice play with little input from teachers make smaller gains in early language and math skills than children who receive input from teachers in a range of different activity settings. Low-income children benefit particularly when a higher proportion of their time is spent in individual instruction settings.

Those are the findings of a new study that appears in the September/October 2010 issue of Child Development.

"If early childhood education is to level the playing field by stimulating children's academic development, more quality instructional time spent with teachers and less free play time without teacher guidance may prepare children better for starting kindergarten," according to Nina C. Chien, a postdoctoral fellow in pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego, who led the study (Chien was at the University of California at Los Angeles at the time of the study). "Our work has implications for policy and practice."

Chien and colleagues note that teachers who modify instruction to fit children's changing needs can do so during play settings by asking thought-provoking questions or using new words to describe what children are doing, so it's not a matter of play versus instruction. But it appears that play without such teacher input doesn't support learning to the same extent as contexts involving more introduction of instructional content by teachers.

In the study, researchers looked at more than 2,700 children enrolled in public pre-kindergarten programs in 11 U.S. states; more than half the children were poor. Based on their observations, they categorized the children according to the types of settings in which they spent the bulk of their time: Some spent most of their time freely choosing from a wide variety of educational materials to play with and less time engaging in pre-academic activities. Some spent a lot of time learning individually through teacher-directed activities, focusing more on fine motor and early literacy activities. Some spent much of their time in small- and whole-group instructional activities. And some were taught by teachers who worked across a range of individual and group settings.

The researchers found that children who were engaged in free-choice play made smaller gains in language and math than the other children. The free-choice play model involving limited teacher intentional instruction is popular in many early childhood classrooms—more than half the children in this study had free-choice play as their primary pattern of activities. The study suggests that this approach may not be best for children's early achievement. In the study, the researchers noted that the children who took part in free-choice play spent little time on academic activities.

The study also found that low-income children who were guided by teachers in individual instruction made greater gains than children who spent their time primarily in other activity settings. This finding lends support to the idea that low-income children do better in a program that's focused on learning, with more time spent in individualized instruction.

In addition to Chien, researchers who worked on the study came from the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of California at Irvine, the University of Virginia, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The research was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education.

Sarah Hutcheon | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>