SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: AN APPROACH TO THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER IN WORK PROJECTS’ METHODOLOGY
The present study aims to deeply know about how Early Childhood Education teachers encourage positive interactions among children and foster the development of their social competence, when they implement in classroom Work Projects’ methodology.
The research has adopted the orientation of a case study, since the purpose is to describe and to understand the daily dynamic of the most representative classrooms, according to the phenomenon of inquiry. Thus, it has been conducted an intentional sampling. The participants have been 23 Early Childhood Education teachers of Córdoba (Spain), experts in applying the Work Projects’ methodology, and who take part in the RIECU network. This net, highly committed to the early years and which has an extended trajectory advocating for innovation and improvement processes in this initial educational stage, acts as a community of practice and is formed by three institutions (School – Teaching Center – University).
The research method has been eminently qualitative, although it has certain mixed-method inclination. It has been followed a triangulation process of different techniques for collecting data. Before the administration of the SIPPY questionnaire (Social Interaction Practices for the Preschool Years), the translation and adaptation of its original version, developed by Kemple, Kim, Ellis & Han (2008)*, have been carried out. It has also been accomplished a participant observation process, to register the habitual performance of two of the participants teachers. Finally, the 23 practices´ diaries of pre-service teachers, which were submitted at the end of the university students´ stay in the classrooms beside the in-service teachers, have been analyzed.
To manage data from questionnaires, software SPSS 20 has been used. Regarding qualitative information, it has been conducted a constant induction-deduction process. ATLAS.ti software has allowed us to identify thematic dimensions and to recognize links between different sets of data that has been gathered.
The achieved findings refer to the following specific aims:
1) To know the extent to which Early Childhood Education teachers take into consideration the social development of children.
2) To identify the principles of Work Projects´ methodology and to specify the role of teachers when they implement it, for the purpose of determining how such circumstances influence the growth of children´s social competence.
3) To find out factors that support or, conversely, hinder teachers’ intervention to advance young children´s social development.
4) To present those strategies that Early Childhood Education teachers use with the aim of promoting positive social interactions among children.
Findings have theoretical and practical implications. Being Early Childhood Education stage a sensitive period, since the foundations to build relationships with others are settled, the role of its teachers should be seen as essential. The pedagogical approach assumed by teachers imply the establishment of an educational environment which can be suitable or, on the contrary, inadequate for the development of the social competence. In the case of Work Projects´ methodology, as teachers foster children´s initiative, design the teaching-learning process as a shared activity, and actively listen to and dialogue with their students, the ability to relate with one another flourish considerably.
*This reference will be cited in the full version of the paper.