Language environment and positive caregiving climate in early childhood care and education and their relationship to child language development
Crowell, Nancy A.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. Much attention has been focused in recent years on the skills young children need at kindergarten entry in order to succeed in school. Strong preliteracy skills have been shown to be predictive of reading and language skills in later elementary grades. Previous research has shown that both the amount and quality of language exposure and the positive caregiving environment of early care and education are related to children's later academic achievement. Seldom has the relationship between the language and positive caregiving environments in early care and education settings and their joint relationship to child language outcomes been examined.; Teacher background is a potential contributor to the language and positive caregiving environments in early care and education settings. Previous research has found an association between teacher training and education and quality of care, although recent research has questioned that relationship. Teacher literacy level, as it relates to quality of care and child outcomes, has received little attention. Mothers' literacy levels have been found to be positively correlated with their children's language and cognitive development as well as to the level of cognitive stimulation in the home. Adult literacy has also been found to be positively associated with language environment in early care settings. These findings suggest that adult literacy of early care and education providers may play an important role in both language environment and child outcomes.; Using Path Analysis, Study 1 examines the relationships between language and positive caregiving environments and child language outcomes. It contributes to the existing literature by (1) assessing the joint influence of these two aspects of children's early care environments on language development, and (2) contrasting two models--one in which the environmental influences on language development are mediated by teacher-child relationship and one in which child engagement elicits teacher behavior. Study 2 adds provider literacy as a predictor of quality of language environment for a subset of providers. The studies find evidence of a relationship between language and positive caregiving environments. Their association with child language outcomes is mediated by adult-child relationship. There is some evidence that provider literacy affects child language outcomes directly.
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