National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education
Studies consistently show that high quality pre-kindergarten programs make a positive difference for preschooler’s success in kindergarten. Research explored how children’s use of time in pre-k varied based on three demographic characteristics frequently associated with low academic achievement: ethnicity (African American, Latino, and White), gender, and family income. More notable than demographic differences in children’s use of classroom time, however, was learning that a significant portion of each child’s pre-k day involved learning through didactic instruction and waiting for the next activity. This means teachers’ interactions with children are not being maximized for children benefit and opportunities for promoting children’s development and school readiness. Given that state funded pre-kindergarten programs represent a primary strategy for addressing income and ethnic disparities in school achievement, this is an especially troubling finding for children in the greatest need of pre-k’s social and academic benefits (Early, 2010)
An overview of the study stated, “Children of different ethnicity, gender, and family income levels were observed throughout their pre-k day. To be exact, observers watched 2061 children in 562 pre-k programs in 11 states.” Teachers’ interactions with children also were observed. Specifically, to what extent did teachers’ interactions with children involve didactic (direct) instruction (To what extent did teachers use scaffolding (supporting and expanding children’s thinking and understanding through techniques like open-ended question asking) to promote children’s learning (Ritchie, 2010). Both types of interactions are important and support different learning outcomes.
Yet, we know that scaffolded learning is an especially effective teaching technique with young children. Classroom observers used the Emerging Academics Snapshot (Snapshot) to capture children’s use of time, as well as their interactions with teachers. The Snapshot is a moment by moment observation measure that describes children’s classroom experiences. Throughout the day, each 20 second “snapshot” was coded according to a list of social and early academic activities such as writing, math, art, science, and gross and fine motor activities. When not engaged with any of the listed activities at any time during the snapshot, the child’s time was recorded as a “no coded learning activity (Howes, 2010).
(Pinata, 2010). Turn classroom routines, such as meals and transitions, into times for expanding learning. During meals and snacks, for example, explore food characteristics and invite conversations about where food comes from and how food is prepared, as well as invite discussions about home life and families. Meals and snacks offer endless conversation possibilities. This websites focused on “quality teaching.” which has a direct correlation with our lesson format. Great and informative article!
Early, D., Iruka, I., Ritchie, S., Barbarin, O., Winn, D., Crawford, G., Frome, P., Clifford, R., Burchinal, M. Howes, C., Bryant, D., Pianta, R. (June 2010). How Do Pre-kindergarteners Spend their Time? Gender, Ethnicity, and Income as Predictors of Experiences in Pre-kindergarten Classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25 (2)