THE ROLE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS’ WELL-BEING IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHILDREN
University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Starting from contemporary contextual theoretical models, the student-teacher relationship is one of the main variables that present the quality indicator in the kindergarten. Their dimensions, such as closeness and conflict between early childhood educators and children of an early and preschool age, are the most studied ones. Previous studies revealed that closeness is predominant over conflict within the relationship between early childhood educators and children. In addition, research findings implied certain correlates that could serve as the elements for enhancing student-teacher relationships. One of the significant correlates is related to the early childhood educators’ well-being, which showed to have a significant effect on the relationship between early childhood educators and children. So, it is of utmost importance to furthermore investigate the role of early childhood educators’ well-being in their relationship with children in an educational context. According to that, the main aim of this study was to explore the relationship between early childhood educators’ well-being and their relationship with children and the predictive power of educators’ well-being on the quality of student-teacher relationships. The relationship between early childhood educators and children was operationalized and measured using the Student-teacher relationship scale and its two aspects: closeness and conflict. Early childhood educators’ well-being was defined by life satisfaction, optimism, and happiness, so relevant self-assessment scales were used in this study. Thirty-two early childhood educators (all females) of an average age of M=42.66 years (SD=11.5) run self-evaluations of their well-being and evaluated their relationship with children from their kindergarten groups on an overall sample of 603 children (331 boys and 272 girls) of an average age M=4.92 years (SD=1.19). Cities and kindergartens from two counties in Croatia are chosen based on previous cooperation with the Faculty of Teacher Education in Rijeka, and the principles of anonymity and data confidentiality were assured during the research. After data collection, scales showed satisfactory levels of reliability, so the descriptive, correlation, and regression analyses could be run for which SPSS 22 program was used. Determined results revealed higher levels of closeness and lower levels of conflict between early childhood educators and children of the early and preschool-aged they worked with in kindergartens. Also, early childhood educators evaluated a moderate level of their optimism and slightly higher levels of life satisfaction and happiness. Based on significant correlations between early childhood educators’ well-being variables and the two aspects of their relationship with children, regression analyses revealed that educators’ life satisfaction is the significant predictor of conflict and their happiness is the significant predictor of closeness. In addition, in the second steps of two regression analyses, it was determined that the evaluation of their difficulty to work, children’s gender, and educators’ age were also significant predictors of students-teachers relationship. Determined results were discussed in the frame of the importance of enhancing the students-teacher relationships with the lifelong learning programs and study programs aimed at empowering the well-being of early childhood educators.
Keywords: Children, early childhood educators, kindergarten, relationships, well-being.