Teachers in day nurseries: observations of children's behaviour and the nature of talk by teachers and nursery nurses to children

Pereira, Charmaine (1991). Teachers in day nurseries: observations of children's behaviour and the nature of talk by teachers and nursery nurses to children. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

The introduction of teachers into local authority day nurseries has been recommended as a means of extending the educational opportunities open to the children attending such nurseries. An underlying assumption is that teachers are likely to be especially successful at providing compensatory experiences which will promote the child's language development.

The present research was carried out in council day nurseries with and without teachers. Two main aims were identified. One was to investigate whether nursery nurses and teachers differed in their speech to children, particularly in terms of cognitive content. The second was to compare children's customary levels of social and cognitive functioning - as expressed In their spontaneous behaviour in the nursery - in the two groups of nurseries.

Few differences were found in the behaviour of three-year-olds in each nursery group. The hypothesis that complex cognitive operations would be more often observed in the children from nurseries with teachers was not confirmed. Regarding staff speech to children, group size appeared to be a more influential factor than whether the adult was a teacher or nursery nurse. No support was found for the hypothesis that teachers would show a greater level of cognitive content in their speech to children than would nursery nurses.

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