Examining the Associations Between Daily Caregiving Discontinuity and Children's Social-Emotional Outcomes

Published in: Developmental Psychology, v. 51, no. 5, May 2015, p. 635-648

Posted on RAND.org on May 18, 2015

by Vi-Nhuan Le, Diana Schaack, Claude Messan Setodji

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Many child care centers temporarily move children and teachers in and out of their assigned classrooms throughout the day. Such practices create frequent discontinuity in children's experiences in child care, including discontinuity in their peer and teacher relationships. This study examined the prevalence and patterns of teacher and child movement between classrooms, the characteristics of teachers and children who were more likely to move between classrooms on a daily basis, and the associations between children's and teachers' rate of daily movement between classrooms with children's social-emotional outcomes. A moderate to high prevalence of child and teacher movement between classrooms was observed (29% and 83%, respectively). Children who were younger, considered solitary, and who had been enrolled in their classroom for shorter periods of time were less likely to transition between classrooms. Children's rate of movement was a positive predictor of teachers' perceived conflict with children in their care, and a negative predictor of teachers' perceived closeness. In addition, the more frequently teachers moved, the less children were inclined to indicate liking their teachers or centers. However, the more frequently children moved, the more likely children were to indicate liking their peers and for their peers to indicate liking them. Results are interpreted in light of additional research avenues that can inform sensible daily teacher continuity practices.

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