December 9, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 48


Early Childhood Matters: Behavioural Insights, Ideas and Action for the Early Years


Teachers, parents and other caregivers are faced with challenges each day when caring for young children; the 2022 edition of Early Childhood Matters, released by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, highlights how behavioral science can be rooted in all aspects of caregiving and help caregivers address the challenges of child rearing. The publication includes 28 articles from early childhood experts across the globe; access it here.


The Association Between and Development of School Enjoyment and General Knowledge


A new study finds a bidirectional relationship between school enjoyment and general knowledge in the preschool and kindergarten years. In a large and diverse sample preschool general knowledge was associated with change in school enjoyment from preschool to kindergarten; and preschool school enjoyment was associated with change in general knowledge. Notably, the strengths of the associations differed, with the relationship between preschool enjoyment and kindergarten general knowledge much stronger than the association between preschool general knowledge and kindergarten enjoyment. Read the study, by Jamie Jirout, Erik Ruzek, Virginia Vitiello, Jessica Whittaker, and Robert Pianta, here.


Who Are the Teachers Leaving Child Care Centers? Evidence from Virginia


Less experienced teachers at child care centers were far more likely than experienced teachers to leave their positions, and nearly three-quarters of those who left cited pay as a reason. Researchers with the Study of Early Education Through Partnerships examined data from the Virginia Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Spring 2022 Workforce Survey of 2,926 child care center teachers, nearly 500 of whom left their jobs between fall 2021 and spring 2022. Just over two-thirds of those who left had worked at their child care center one year or less; assistants were more likely to leave than lead teachers. Most reported being more satisfied in their new roles, particularly with the pay. Read the report, by Daphna Bassok and Kennedy Weisner, here.


Equity in Mixed-delivery Prekindergarten Systems Requires New Investments and New Thinking

Findings from a working paper about differences in mixed-delivery pre-K systems are highlighted in an article this week in the Brookings blog Brown Center Chalkboard by researchers Christina Weiland, Meghan McCormick, and NIEER’s Allison Friedman-Krauss. They highlight their findings on disparities in mixed-delivery pre-K systems, including that children enrolled in community-based organizations (CBOs) tend to be taught by less educated teachers than children in public school settings; and children from marginalized backgrounds are more likely to be enrolled in CBOs. Read the article here.



Center-based Early Care and Education Programs and Quality Indicators: A Latent Class Analysis

Using data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education, and center-based quality indicators adapted from NIEER’s annual Yearbook benchmarks for state-funded pre-K, researchers identified five distinct subgroups of early childhood centers. The largest subgroup was centers that met most of the 9 quality indicators. Center, community and policy features predicted subgroup membership. Read the study, by Gerilyn Slicker, Anamarie A. Whitaker, and Jing Tang, here.

Evaluation of Narrative Skills of Children and Language Inputs of Parents during Shared Book Reading. A Parent-Mediated Home-Based Intervention Study

Young children whose parents received training in reading books to them showed improved narrative skills, researchers in India reported. “Parents and children assigned to the intervention group significantly increased the targeted interactive shared reading skills,” they wrote. Evaluations were conducted one week and two months after the training sessions. Read the study here.


Prediction of Kindergarten and First-Grade Reading Skills: Unique Contributions of Preschool Writing and Early-Literacy Skills

Measures of invented spelling by preschoolers may help identify those at risk for reading difficulties, researchers found. They assessed the early literacy and writing skills of 252 preschoolers, who were then tested for reading skills in kindergarten and first grade. They found invented spelling contributed to all five kindergarten reading outcomes, and to two first grade reading outcomes. Early literacy skills (particularly print knowledge) also predicted kindergarten and first grade reading outcomes even after accounting for early writing skills, age, and non-verbal IQ. Read the study, by Eric D. Hand, Christopher J. Lonigan, and Cynthia S. Puranik, here.

Differences in Characteristics between Head Start Participants and Non-Participants among Head Start Eligible Families with Young Children

Children eligible for Head Start but who are not enrolled tend to be first-born children living in severe poverty, and whose mother is unmarried and did not get far in school, according to researchers. Based on data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, researchers analyzed family characteristics of 1,983 children identified as eligible for Head Start. Only 503 were enrolled in the federally subsidized program. The researchers said Head Start eligible families should receive help in the enrollment process, and called on the government to expand child care programs. Read the study, by Huiying Jin and Kyunghee Lee, here.


Universal Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Screeners for Preschool Students: A Systematic Review

Several options are available to schools for early detection and prevention of social, emotional and behavior (SEB) problems in preschoolers, according to researchers who conducted a systematic review. They evaluated the research base on six teacher-report tools for universal SEB screening of preschoolers. The Behavioral and Emotional Screening System-Teacher Rating Scale – Preschool (BESS TRS-P) had the most evidence supporting its technical adequacy and the researchers concluded it could be used to identify students at risk for preschool SEB problems; however, they noted more research is needed to understand the usability of preschool SEB screeners. Read the study here.