A study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly reports on a randomised controlled trial of an intervention designed to improve the quality of teaching in early childhood education and increase children’s school readiness.
“Play and Learn” is a low-cost, 20-week, teacher-delivered
early childhood education programme that targets both teacher and child skills.
For teachers, the intervention aims to improve their teaching and interactive
skills. The aim of the intervention for children is to improve their language
and maths skills and increase school readiness.
The randomised controlled trial involved 1,116 children ages 18-36 months who were enrolled in 87 childcare centres in Denmark. Childcare centres were randomised to either an intervention or control group, with childcare centres in the intervention group implementing Play and Learn. Teachers implementing the intervention programme received training materials and tools to support their teaching and help them to be more explicit and intentional in their interactions with children to target language, maths language and numeracy skills.
The results of the study showed that the intervention had a positive short-term impact on children’s language and maths skills relative to control-group children in all four areas examined: general vocabulary (ES = +0.27), language use (ES = +0.19), maths language (ES = +0.80) and numeracy (ES = +0.55). However, children receiving the Play and Learn intervention did not improve skills relative to the control group on measures of social-emotional skills (self-regulation and cooperation = +0.12; empathy = 0.00).
teacher-implemented intervention improves toddlers’ language and math skills (March
2020), Early Childhood Research Quarterly,
Volume 53, 4th Quarter 2020
A randomised controlled trial published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly examines the effectiveness of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) programme in Zurich, Switzerland.
PAT is a parent teaching programme that begins during
pregnancy, or shortly after birth, and continues until the child’s third
birthday. Among its goals, PAT aims to increase parental knowledge of early
childhood development and improve parental practice and, in the long term,
increase the child’s school readiness and success.
A total of 261 children from 248 families took part in the
trial. Families in the intervention group (n=132) were supported with regular
home visits from qualified parent educators with a degree in early education,
and attended group meetings. The 116 families in the control group had access
to the normal community services but were not supported by PAT.
After three years of the PAT programme, children showed more age-appropriate adaptive behaviour, with small effect sizes in both self-help skills (ES = +0.26) and developmental milestones (ES = +0.26). There were also positive effects on children’s language skills – particularly expressive language skills (ES = +0.39). PAT was also found to positively affect children’s problem behaviour (ES = +0.30).
By contrast, however, no meaningful increases were observed
in children’s health, cognitive development, or motor development.
of home-based early intervention on child outcomes: A randomized controlled
trial of Parents as Teachers in Switzerland (May 2019), Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 48
The Education Endowment Foundation has published an evaluation of a programme that trains early years teachers to improve children’s language outcomes. The Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years (URLEY) intervention is an evidence-based professional development programme for early years teachers. It is designed to improve teacher’s knowledge of how children learn and develop oral language skills, and how to support that learning through evidence-based practice.
Teachers take part in five day-long
professional development workshops in which they are introduced to
evidence-based learning principles and research tools to evaluate and refine
pedagogy and practice. In particular, teachers are taught to use Environment
Rating Scales (ERS) – research-validated observational rating scales known to
predict aspects of children’s development, with higher scores linked to
improved maths and English achievement. Teachers watched videos of effective
practice and were supported to use the language principles and ERS to “tune in”
to language-supporting practice.
Nearly 2,000 children from 120 schools from the West Midlands,
Liverpool and Manchester participated in the study from October 2016 to July
2018. The programme was evaluated using a randomised controlled trial, testing
the impact of the URLEY programme on children’s language development over two
years, compared to business as usual in control schools.
The results of the trial found that children in schools receiving
URLEY did not make additional progress in language development compared to
children in control schools, as measured by a composite language score (effect
size = -0.08). However, the programme did show a positive impact on the quality
of teaching (as measured by ERS), with effect sizes in the range of +0.5 to +0.7.
evaluation report (February 2020), Education
Approaches to professional development that combine coaching or mentoring with new knowledge and opportunities for reflection on practice may be the most effective in improving outcomes in early childhood settings, according to a study published in Review of Education.
Sue Rogers and colleagues conducted the systematic review, which
was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, in order to examine the impact of
professional learning and development. The studies included in the review
identify approaches to professional learning that demonstrate impact on early
childhood education on one or more outcomes across three main areas: literacy
knowledge and skills, maths and science knowledge, and social-emotional and behavioural
The findings from the review suggest that coaching models, and
approaches that help develop pedagogical knowledge, may be the most effective
in improving outcomes in early childhood settings. The evidence on duration,
frequency and intensity of the professional learning, although likely to be
important factors, was inconclusive.
systematic review of the evidence base for professional learning in early years
education (The PLEYE Review) (February 2020), Review of Education, Vol 8, No 1
The findings from a randomised controlled trial of Let’s
Talk – an interactive intervention to support young children’s language
development – suggest that the intervention has a positive effect on narrative
and vocabulary development.
The trial, conducted by Gillian Lake and Maria Evangelou, and published in European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, involved 94 three- to four-year-old children in early education settings in Oxfordshire. The children were randomly assigned to control or intervention groups and tested pre- and post-intervention on standardised vocabulary and narrative assessments. Children in the intervention group attended twice-weekly sessions over ten weeks, in groups of three to five children. The first session of the week was a group shared storybook reading session with a puppet, while the second weekly session consisted of a planned pretend play session based on the storybook read in the first session that week. Children in the control group completed age-appropriate early numeracy activities and games – also in groups of three to five children.
The results suggest that the intervention had a positive
effect on the vocabulary of the children in the intervention group, with medium
to large effect sizes, and also on their narrative ability.
Source:Let’s Talk! An interactive intervention to support children’s language development (February 2019). European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 27:2
This Campbell systematic review examines the evidence on the correlation between teacher qualifications and the quality of early childhood learning environments, as measured by the Environment Rating Scale (ERS). The review summarises findings from 48 studies with 82 independent samples. The studies had to be comparative or correlational and report either an overall quality scale or an environment rating scale.
Overall, the review suggests that higher teacher
qualifications are positively associated with classroom quality in early
childhood education and care (effect size = +0.20). The review also suggests a
positive correlation between teacher qualifications and classroom quality on a
number of subscales, including:
structure – focusing on the schedule, time for free play, group time and
provisions for children with disabilities (ES = +0.22).
– this relates to fine motor, art, music/movement, blocks, sand/water, dramatic
play, nature/science, maths/number, use of digital technologies, and promoting
acceptance of diversity (ES = +0.20).
and reasoning – encouraging children to communicate, use language to
develop reasoning skills, and the informal use of language (ES = +0.20).
The researchers conclude that while there is evidence for
the relationship between teacher qualification and classroom quality as
measured by the ERS, further research is also needed into the specific knowledge
and skills that are learned by teachers with higher qualifications that enable
them to complete their roles effectively. It is important to note also, that
while higher quality in early childhood education and care may lead to improved
outcomes for children, we cannot assume that this is the case.
relationship between teacher qualification and the quality of the early
childhood education and care environment (January 2017), Campbell Systematic Reviews, Volume 13, Issue 1.