Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Early Childhood Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 April 2024) | Viewed by 17541

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
Interests: early childhood education; universal design for learning (UDL); early childhood mathematics; STEAM in early childhood education; STEAM in inclusive settings; early childhood teacher education
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Psychology Department, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
Interests: promoting the academic success of children from diverse (race/ethnicity, SES, linguistic) backgrounds;how parental beliefs and practices are associated with children’s academic development
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Few will argue against the importance of the early childhood classroom (from birth to age 8) in the development of foundational skills (e.g; Pianta, Barnett, Burchinal, & Thornburg, 2009). Early childhood classrooms have been shown to support the development of not only children’s academic skills, but also their social/emotional and executive skills (e.g., Ansari et al., 2020; Barnett & Camilli, 2002; Barnett et.al., 2018). In fact, when a child begins their education in preschool, they are more likely to begin kindergarten with stronger academic skills than a child who did not attend a preschool program (Barnett, 1995). Given what we know about the importance of the early childhood classroom, it is critical that we examine the most effective pedagogies to support academic, social/emotional, and executive function development in young children.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but not limited to) the following:

  1. What pedagogies are effective for in development of early academic skills in all content areas?
  2. How can we effectively develop a young child’s social/emotional and executive function skills?
  3. How can we differentiate instructions to meet the needs of all young learners, including those with disabilities?
  4. How do we ensure early childhood pedagogy that represents children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds?
  5. How is the home learning environment influenced by pedagogy?

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Ansari, A., Pianta, R. C., Whittaker, J. V., Vitiello, V. E., & Ruzek, E. A. (2020). Persistence and convergence: The end of kindergarten outcomes of pre-K graduates and their nonattending peers. Developmental Psychology, 56(11), 2027–2039. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0001115

Barnett, W. S. (1995). Long-term effects of early childhood programs on    cognitive and school outcomes. The Future of Children, 5(3), 25–50. https://doi.org/10.2307/1602366

Barnett, W. S., & Camilli, G. (2002). Compensatory preschool education, cognitive development, and "race" In J. M. Fish (Ed.), Race and intelligence: Separating science from myth (p. 369–406). NJ: LEA

Barnett, W. S., & Frede, E. (2010). The promise of preschool: Why we need early education for all. American Educator, 34(1), 21-29. https://doi.org/10.2307/1602366

Barnett, W. S., Jung, K., Friedman-Krauss, A., Frede, E. C., Nores, M., Hustedt, J. T., & Daniel-Echols, M. (2018). State prekindergarten effects on early learning at kindergarten entry: An analysis of eight state programs. AERA Open, 4(2) 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1177/2332858418766291

Pianta, R. C., Barnett, W. S., Burchinal, M., & Thornburg, K. R. (2009). The effects of preschool education: What we know, how public policy is or is not aligned with the evidence base, and what we need to know. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 10 (2), 49-88. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100610381908

Dr. Michele Stites
Prof. Dr. Susan Sonnenschein
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • early childhood education
  • preschool
  • prekindergarten
  • kindergarten
  • primary grades education
  • early mathematics
  • early literacy
  • early science
  • special education

Published Papers (8 papers)

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18 pages, 791 KiB  
Article
Supporting Emergent Writing in Preschool Classrooms: Results of a Professional Development Program
by Barbara D. DeBaryshe
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(9), 961; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13090961 - 20 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1145
Abstract
Emergent writing is a key component of early literacy development and contributes to later school success, yet it receives little attention in most preschool classrooms. This paper presents results of a quasi-experimental study of a teacher professional development package that included writing as [...] Read more.
Emergent writing is a key component of early literacy development and contributes to later school success, yet it receives little attention in most preschool classrooms. This paper presents results of a quasi-experimental study of a teacher professional development package that included writing as one of four focal areas. The study was conducted in 15 Head Start classrooms located in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi. The participants were 39 lead and assistant teachers and 240 children. Intervention teachers had higher quality writing environments and overall classroom environments, while intervention children showed better outcomes on emergent reading and upper case letter knowledge. Emergent writing was assessed only in the intervention group, where children showed large gains along with changes in code-related skills needed for invented spelling. Results are discussed in terms of recommended practices for early writing instruction and teacher professional development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
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27 pages, 455 KiB  
Article
Research and Pedagogies for Early Math
by Douglas H. Clements, Renee Lizcano and Julie Sarama
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(8), 839; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13080839 - 17 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3807
Abstract
The increasing interest in early childhood mathematics education for decades has increased the need for empirically supported pedagogical strategies. However, there is little agreement on how early math might best be taught. We draw from the empirical literature to paint a picture of [...] Read more.
The increasing interest in early childhood mathematics education for decades has increased the need for empirically supported pedagogical strategies. However, there is little agreement on how early math might best be taught. We draw from the empirical literature to paint a picture of research-based and research-validated pedagogical approaches and strategies for teaching early math. Most approaches share core characteristics, including concern for children’s interests and engagement and for working on content matched to children’s level of thinking. Learning trajectories are an especially useful organizing structure because they combine and integrate educational goals, development of children’s thinking, and empirically supported pedagogical strategies. Therefore, they help teachers interpret what the child is doing, thinking, and constructing, and offer instructional activities that extend children’s mathematical thinking. Simultaneously, teachers can see instructional strategies from the child’s perspective, offering meaningful and joyful opportunities to engage in learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
12 pages, 269 KiB  
Article
Parent–Preschooler Writing on an Internet Forum as a Potential Platform for Promoting Respectful Online Discourse and Executive Functions
by Coral Ayelet Shachar, Dorit Aram and Marie-Lyne Smadja
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(8), 812; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13080812 - 07 Aug 2023
Viewed by 741
Abstract
This research explored young children’s online writing with the support of their parents. In this pioneering study, we explored the nature of the online discourse. We studied parents’ potential influence on their children’s executive function (EF) development by directing their online discourse. After [...] Read more.
This research explored young children’s online writing with the support of their parents. In this pioneering study, we explored the nature of the online discourse. We studied parents’ potential influence on their children’s executive function (EF) development by directing their online discourse. After a workshop in the preschools on supporting children’s writing and the promotion of ethics in online discourse, we encouraged parents to support their children in writing messages to their friends within a closed online forum. We asked them to help their children in responding to a child who had not yet received any comments and in writing new posts. The participants were 174 Hebrew-speaking parents and their children (M = 65.57 months) from eight preschools in Israel. We analyzed the written messages (N = 1167), including posts and comments. Parents guided their children to write positive, friendly messages that included empathic expressions. We identified 14 themes (e.g., sharing experience) in the posts and 4 in the comments. Despite the positive nature of the online discourse, 49 children did not receive any comments, while others received several. We suggest that guided writing in closed forums can be a good platform for promoting EF and teaching children to use the network empathetically. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
15 pages, 536 KiB  
Article
Teachers’ Pedagogical Competence in Finnish Early Childhood Education—A Narrative Literature Review
by Samuli Ranta, Jonna Kangas, Heidi Harju-Luukkainen, Tuulikki Ukkonen-Mikkola, Marita Neitola, Jarmo Kinos, Nina Sajaniemi and Arniika Kuusisto
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(8), 791; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13080791 - 03 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2621
Abstract
Finnish early childhood education (ECE) is defined in education policies and research as an activity with an emphasis on pedagogy as a holistic and Nordic model of education. Pedagogical competence can be viewed as a special expertise of teachers responsible for the implementation [...] Read more.
Finnish early childhood education (ECE) is defined in education policies and research as an activity with an emphasis on pedagogy as a holistic and Nordic model of education. Pedagogical competence can be viewed as a special expertise of teachers responsible for the implementation of pedagogy in ECE. However, it is unclear how a teacher’s pedagogical competence is defined, understood, and implemented in pedagogical practices and policies. Previous studies define pedagogical competence from different, often narrow, perspectives and various skills have been defined to be a part of teachers’ pedagogical expertise. In this study, we aim to take a closer look at how teachers’ pedagogical competence is defined in research literature in Finland. As our method, we use a narrative literature review of research papers published between 2010 and 2020. We were able to identify fourteen different definitions of pedagogical competencies that could be categorized into three main categories: (a) meta-competencies, (b) professional competencies, and (c) practical competencies. In summary, we argue that pedagogical competence is often narrowly understood. To implement high-quality ECE, teachers’ pedagogical competence should be considered broadly and wholly. Particularly, the shared values and reflection of ethical questions are essential for supporting children’s development and learning through holistic education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
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13 pages, 1097 KiB  
Article
“Attentive Kindergarten”: A Small Group Intervention Boosting Attention among Kindergarten Children
by Inbar Lucia Trinczer, Tom Maayan and Lilach Shalev
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(7), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13070664 - 29 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1416
Abstract
(1) Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a small group intervention program named “Attentive Kindergarten” (AK), aimed at enhancing attention functioning among typically developing preschool-aged children. The program focuses on improving sustained attention, selective spatial attention, and [...] Read more.
(1) Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a small group intervention program named “Attentive Kindergarten” (AK), aimed at enhancing attention functioning among typically developing preschool-aged children. The program focuses on improving sustained attention, selective spatial attention, and response inhibition based on cognitive training principles. (2) Methods: The study’s sample included 51 children, 15 of whom received the AK intervention and 36 of whom served as a control group. Computerized cognitive tests were used for pre- and postintervention evaluations to assess sustained attention, response inhibition, and selective spatial attention. Quantitative analyses were conducted to examine the differences between the two groups as a result of the intervention program. (3) Results: The AK group demonstrated improvements in all attention functions that were measured. These improvements were larger than those obtained in the control group. (4) Conclusions: The results suggest that cognitive training programs, such as Attentive Kindergarten, can enhance attention functioning in young children. The present findings have important implications for early intervention programs aimed at improving young children’s cognitive skills, which, in turn, can decrease the likelihood of future attention problems and other related difficulties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
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17 pages, 280 KiB  
Article
How Sustainable Is a Waldorf School? Exploring the Congruence between Waldorf Education and the Sustainable School Approach in a Greek School Case Study
by Maria Daskolia and Vassiliki Koukouzeli
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(4), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040403 - 16 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2730
Abstract
The study reported here aims to explore the relationship between Waldorf education and the sustainable school approach through a small-scale qualitative research study conducted in a Greek Waldorf school. Following a semi-structured interview protocol, four teachers shared their views and beliefs on the [...] Read more.
The study reported here aims to explore the relationship between Waldorf education and the sustainable school approach through a small-scale qualitative research study conducted in a Greek Waldorf school. Following a semi-structured interview protocol, four teachers shared their views and beliefs on the congruence between the two approaches as reflected in the philosophy and everyday practice of their school. The study’s findings indicate that the Greek Waldorf school manifests several of the quality criteria that define a sustainable school, with pedagogy identified as the most relevant aspect, particularly in terms of the quality of teaching and learning processes. Participants also identified common features between the two approaches on both the social/organizational and physical/technical levels. Although not all the criteria of a sustainable school are fully met, the teachers believe that the sustainability concept is implicitly interwoven with the philosophy and practice of Waldorf education and that their school is moving in the direction of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
22 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Factors Affecting Early Literacy Learning Spaces of Young Children: The Context of Home Literacy in Saudi Arabia
by Merfat Ayesh Alsubaie
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(11), 791; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12110791 - 06 Nov 2022
Viewed by 2688
Abstract
This study explores the factors affecting the early literacy learning spaces of young children in home environments in Saudi Arabia from mothers’ perspectives. A qualitative research methodology was used. In-depth and semi-structured interviews with 15 mothers of young children (2–5 years old) were [...] Read more.
This study explores the factors affecting the early literacy learning spaces of young children in home environments in Saudi Arabia from mothers’ perspectives. A qualitative research methodology was used. In-depth and semi-structured interviews with 15 mothers of young children (2–5 years old) were conducted. A coding approach was used to analyze the qualitative data, which revealed three themes: (1) direct factors that influence the early literacy learning space at home, (2) indirect factors that influence the early literacy learning space at home, and (3) challenges in creating early literacy learning spaces at home. Several pedagogical implications are suggested at the end of this study that could be useful to parents and caregivers who want to support and improve their children’s early literacy learning spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)

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9 pages, 211 KiB  
Concept Paper
STEAM Activities in the Inclusive Classroom: Intentional Planning and Practice
by Clarissa Bunch Wade, Murat Koc, Andreia Searcy, Christan Coogle and Heather Walter
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(11), 1161; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13111161 - 20 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1052
Abstract
The promotion of equity and access for all children to learn science is critical in early childhood settings. Considering the benefits of teaching science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), it is important that educators embed this pedagogy across early childhood settings. In [...] Read more.
The promotion of equity and access for all children to learn science is critical in early childhood settings. Considering the benefits of teaching science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), it is important that educators embed this pedagogy across early childhood settings. In order to promote access in inclusive early childhood settings that include young children from birth to 8 years of age with or without disabilities to STEAM pedagogy, educators need to be intentional about their practice. This article provides a four-step approach to using an intentional framework, universal design for learning (UDL), to plan for and implement STEAM pedagogy in the inclusive classroom. Practical implications are illustrated through examples of an early childhood educator and a child with autism in an inclusive urban education setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogical Possibilities for Early Childhood Education)
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