Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

12-2013

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Pamela Scott

Committee Members

Dr. Cecil Blankenship, Dr. Virginia Foley, Dr. Eric Glover

Abstract

Longitudinal research has demonstrated that children’s emotional and social skills are linked to their early academic achievement (Wentzel & Asher, 1995). Children who have difficulty paying attention, following directions, getting along with others, and controlling negative emotions like anger and distress do not do as well in school (Arnokl et al., 1999; McClelland et al., 2000). Academic achievement in the early years of schooling appears to be built on a firm foundation of children’s social emotional skills (Ladd, Kochenderfer, & Coleman, 1997; O’Neil et al., 1997). Higher quality prekindergarten programs are associated with the early years of schooling and more positive academic outcomes in children (Burchinal et al., 2000).

Investments in early childhood programs by state and federal governments have been made with a goal of improving school readiness for low income children. These investments are based on findings that show a link between program quality and children’s academic outcomes. Studies of model programs show that intensive early childhood services can improve children’s cognitive, 2 academic, and social skills with gains maintained into adulthood (Burchinal, Kainz, & Cai, in press).

The purpose of this study was to create knowledge that indicates the influence of the social emotional skills children gain by completing prekindergarten. Schools in Sevier County, Tennessee that have prekindergarten classrooms in place were chosen for this study because kindergarten is the next experience children will have after pre-k. Kindergarten teachers in the schools chosen were purposefully selected as participants. Kindergarten teachers have the opportunity to make comparisons of differences in academic readiness of students who have completed prekindergarten and the students who have not been in a school environment. Kindergarten teachers may be able to conclude from classroom observation of the 2 groups if there is a difference in academic readiness.

Home environments with strong parental involvement were most kindergarten teachers’ first choice for early learning and kindergarten preparation. Teachers realization that a strong home environment is not available to all children encouraged them to appreciate having a high quality public school prekindergarten as an alternative. Kindergarten teachers overall perceptions about the readiness of children who enter their classroom after completing prekindergarten were positive.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.