March 5, 2021 – Volume 20, Issue 9

HOT TOPIC

Data to Inform Policy to Address the Pandemic’s Impact on Young Children and Families

The pandemic has adversely affected young children and their families globally. In a recent blog Diego Luna-Bazaldua and Adelle Pushparatnam of the Word Bank call attention to the need to systematically collect data on these impacts to inform policy responses.

They identify several important sources of information that policy makers can use to help design policies to support young children’s learning and development in and out of the home. These include UNICEF’s survey and dashboard tracking Covid-19 impacts in 159 countries with data from August 2020 (the next survey will be this month) and the RAPID-EC ongoing survey of households with children from birth to age 5.

NIEER’s own survey of families with preschoolers provides vital information about children’s experiences at home and in out-of-home care and education that confirms some of our worse fears about lost learning opportunities, the stresses parents are experiencing, and negative impacts on social and emotional development.

NIEER has collaborated with colleagues from China, Germany, and South Korea to offer an international session at the annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) on home learning experiences of young children during the pandemic. More information on NIEER’s contributions and information on how to participate in the online session is provided below.

 

NIEER ACTIVITIES

NIEER Presents at SRCD 2021 Meeting

NIEER researchers are presenting six papers at the Society for Research in Child Development 2021 Virtual Biennial Meeting, April 7-9. Symposiums featuring NIEER presenters and papers are listed below. Register for the meeting here.

 

Symposium: Young Children’s Home Learning Environment During COVID-19 Pandemic

Paper: Young Children’s Preschool Participation Experiences and Home Learning During the Pandemic in USA

Author: NIEER Senior Co-Director W. Steven Barnett (presenter); and NIEER Associate Director for Data Management and Statistics Kwanghee Jung

Date/Time: Friday, April 9, 10 a.m. EDT

 

Symposium: Young Children’s Home Learning Environment During COVID-19 Pandemic

Paper: Kindergarten Children’s Home Learning During the Pandemic in China

Authors: NIEER Assistant Research Professor Zijia Li (presenter); Lin Li, East China Normal University (presenter); and Jin Huang, East China Normal University

Date/Time: Friday, April 9, 10 a.m. EDT

 

 

Symposium: Nurturing Early Childhood Teacher Well-Being and Teaching Quality Through Essential Organizational Conditions and Leadership

Paper: Preschool Teacher Perceptions of School Organizational Conditions in High-Poverty School Districts

Authors: NIEER Assistant Research Professor Allison Friedman-Krauss (presenter); NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores; and NIEER Senior Co-Director W. Steven Barnett

Date/Time: Wednesday, April 7, 10 a.m. EDT

 

Symposium: Evidence of the Benefits of Early Childhood Programs on Child Development in International Contexts

Paper: Understanding the Short-, Medium- and Long-Term Impacts of Early Childhood Interventions Across the Globe

Authors: NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores (presenter); and Raquel Bernal of Universidad de los Andes

Date/Time: Wednesday, April 7, 2:45 p.m. EDT

 

Symposium: Sequencing of Early Learning Experiences: Dosage, Instructional Alignment, and Children’s Developmental Outcomes

Paper: Effects of the New Jersey Abbott Preschool Program through Middle and High School: One vs. Two Years

Authors: NIEER Assistant Research Professor Allison Friedman-Krauss (presenter); NIEER Senior Co-Directors W. Steven Barnett and Ellen Frede; and NIEER Associate Director for Data Management and Statistics Kwanghee Jung

Date/Time: Wednesday, April 7, 4:20 p.m. EDT

 

Symposium: Advancing the Measurement of Early Care and Education Quality to Support Young Children’s Development

Paper: Exploring Two Differing Approaches to Measuring Children’s Preschool Classroom Experiences

Authors: NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores (presenter); NIEER Assistant Research Professor Allison Friedman-Krauss; and Alexandra Figueras-Daniel, Bank Street College of Education

Date/Time: Friday, April 9, 1:10 p.m. EDT

 

NIEER OPENINGS

ECE Policy Research Professor – Open Rank

NIEER is seeking a non-tenure track research professor (open rank). Please join our multidisciplinary group of researchers and policy experts to conduct and communicate research designed to stimulate policymaking. Our research informs policy to support high-quality, effective early childhood education from infancy through the primary grades. We collaborate with a network of local, state, national and international leaders to design, conduct and disseminate rigorous research, evaluation and policy analysis. Use your ECE conceptual knowledge and research expertise to partner with elected and appointed officials as well as philanthropic partners to improve young children’s learning, development and well-being. For a full job description and to apply, click here.

 

Research Project Manager

NIEER is seeking a research project manager to support current and emerging projects in early childhood research. Minimum requirements include a master’s degree in early childhood education or related field, or an equivalent combination of education and/or experience, plus a minimum three years of experience in a research environment. Only applications submitted via Rutgers University’s employment website will be considered. For a full job description and to apply, click here.

 

ECE RESEARCH

Teacher Education and the Quality of Teacher-Child Interactions: New Evidence from the Universe of Publicly-Funded Early Childhood Programs in Louisiana

Studies have shown only weak evidence linking the quality of early care and education settings to teachers’ education levels. Researchers evaluated the limitations of those past studies, which focused on single-sector samples and typically didn’t include programs serving toddlers. Using statewide data from Louisiana, they found “that both education level and the quality of teacher-child interactions is greater in more highly regulated sectors, and that differences in education explain part of the by-sector differences in interaction quality across age groups.”

Researchers Anna J. Markowitz of the University of California, Los Angeles, Katharine Sadowski of Cornell University, and Bridget Hamre of Teachstone suggested their findings support calls “to increase ECE teacher education at all ends of the education spectrum.” Research into the causal link between education and quality is warranted, they noted. Read the abstract here.

 

Heterogeneity in the Development of Executive Function: Evidence from Nationally Representative Data

Jeanne L. Reid and Douglas D. Ready of the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia University investigated patterns of executive function development among socio-demographically diverse children in kindergarten through second grade. They found that Hispanic dual language-learners (DLL) with immigrant parents of low socioeconomic status “entered kindergarten with the lowest average EF skills but then made remarkable EF gains.” Non-DLL Black and Hispanic children from low-SES families had similarly low initial EF skills, but didn’t catch-up the same way as the Hispanic DLLs, they found. Reid and Ready attributed the difference in the children’s performance “in part due to their reduced likelihood of enjoying positive relationships with their teachers.” Their findings “demonstrate the need to assist teachers in forming positive relationships with all children in socio-demographically diverse classrooms,” they wrote. Read the abstract here.

 

Preschool Children’s Attitude toward Some Unpopular Animals and Formation of a Positive Attitude toward Them through Hands-On Activities

Preschoolers may not be clamoring for mealworm beetles as pets, but a study found that young children exposed to the insects and other unpopular animals — toads and earthworms — had a more positive attitude toward them. Five- and 6-year-olds were divided into a control and experimental group. Both had an initial opportunity to observe and handle the animals, but children in the experimental group had subsequent direct contact in hands-on activities. When the attitudes of all the children were retested, those in the experimental group showed a significant decrease in negativity toward the animals.

Researchers Marjanca Kos, Janez Jerman, and Gregor Torkar of the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia suggested their study “provides empirical findings that direct contact with animals positively affects children’s attitude towards them and supports the recommendations that experiential learning with live animals should be an integral part of the curriculum in the early years.” Read the abstract here.

 

Parents’ Socialization of Preschool-Aged Children’s Emotion Skills: A Meta-Analysis Using an Emotion-Focused Parenting Practices Framework

Young children’s emotional development has long been attributed to emotion-focused parenting practices, but a new meta-analysis of published studies found holes in the evidence base. Researchers Katherine M. Zinsser, Rachel A. Gordon, and Xue Jiang of the University of Illinois at Chicago found “parents’ modeling of, responding to, and instruction about emotions positively correlated with children’s emotional competencies, but effect sizes were small.” They noted: “To some extent, these weaknesses in the current literature make it unknown the extent to which emotion-focused parenting practices support emotion skill development.” The researchers suggested “future rigorous and replicated research with consistent reporting standards is needed” including “the use of longitudinal and experimental designs, reliance on common measures, and inclusion of diverse representative samples.” Read the study here.

 

Best Practices for Preschool Music Education: Supporting Music-Making throughout the Day

Researchers identified best practices for preschool music education that can be implemented throughout the school day. The authors’ intention is to provide teachers quality resources for music-making in the classroom. They noted that “active engagement in music has numerous academic and social benefits for young children.” They also used the best practices to review some commercially available preschool music curricula. The paper was authored by: Jentry S. Barrett, Rachel E. Schachter, and Danni Gilbert of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Matthew Fuerst of Doane University in Nebraska. Read the abstract here.