M.S.Ed. in Education in Early Childhood – Research Projects 2013

Intentional Family Engagement in Early Childhood Programs
Author: Sara J. Boilard
Affiliation: Early Childhood Infant Specialist at Family Flex Early Education Center, Denver Colorado

Abstract: Current research in early childhood education has shown that not only does family engagement benefit students and teachers in their daily interactions, but it also sets a lifelong pattern of engagement in a child’s classroom and school. This article presents findings from a qualitative study of how early childhood teachers intentionally encourage family engagement at their centers. These teachers’ responses reveal that although early childhood programs are using a variety of ways to encourage family engagement, there appears to be a lack of clear and consistent written expectations on the topic for both teachers and enrolled families at each center.
Keywords: Early childhood programs, family engagement


What is the Impact of Daily Math Homework on Students in First Grade?
Author: Donna Brown

Abstract: This study examined the impact that daily math homework has on first grade students. Teachers, parents and students in this small, rural northeastern school district participated in surveys and interviews to share their opinions and experiences related to homework. Teachers were surveyed and asked questions about their beliefs and practices regarding homework. Results indicated that teachers only support homework if it is a review, or practice of previously taught skills (Cooper, 2001). Teachers also indicated that they do not have a homework policy guiding a homework expectation (Aloia, 2003). Parents were asked questions about homework from a family’s perspective. Results showed overwhelming support for homework at the first grade level. More than half of the students interviewed expressed enthusiasm for doing schoolwork at home.


Emergent Authors Writing Center: An Innovative Teaching Approach in a Pre-Kindergarten Classroom
Author: Janel Goodman
Affiliation: Jewish Community Alliance Preschool, Co-Director and Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Abstract: The qualitative, exploratory study focused on emergent writing skills in a pre-kindergarten classroom. Through an innovative teacher-created writing approach called emergent authors writing center, students were introduced to writing in a developmentally appropriate manner in order to gain insight into students’ interest in and functional use of writing. Through observations of children’s writing, teacher reflection journal, student writing samples, and student interviews, early writing practices were examined. The implications for this study suggest that given the opportunity, students will embrace writing and will use these newly acquired skills to express themselves and practice important early literacy skills.
Keywords: inventive spelling, literacy skills, pre-kindergarten


Big Muscles, Little Muscles: A Qualitative Study on Children’s Outdoor Play in a Public Preschool Playground
Author: Marga Hutchinson

Abstract: This qualitative, exploratory study focused on describing preschool children’s use of classroom materials on a public school playground. Naturalistic observations, a teacher research journal, and photographs produced a variety of examples of children using fixed playground equipment and loose materials. Eighteen children were observed during their daily outdoor playtime over the course of eight weeks. Midway through the study, children were able to self-select typical indoor classroom materials such as paint and musical instruments, while playing on the playground. Observations of children revealed the value of including a variety of materials on the preschool playground in support of whole-child development.
Keywords: playground, materials, preschool


Aquatic Therapy: An Alternate Therapy for a Child with Autism
Author: Kayla McGrath

Abstract: This mixed-methods case study of a pre-school child with autism examined the use of aquatic therapy as an alternate therapy for young children with autistic disorder. Observations and interviews were used to research whether aquatic therapy sessions altered the level of stereotypy the participant typically participated in. Activities on a day without a swim session and a day with the swim session were observed and the levels of physical and verbal stereotypy were recorded to compare. Two therapeutic recreation specialists were interviewed for additional insight on the therapy. Results indicated there was a decrease in the average percentage of both physical and verbal stereotypy during the swim sessions and during the activities post swim session.
Keywords: aquatic therapy, stereotypy


The Role of Storytelling and Story Reading in Preschool Classrooms: An Investigation
Author: Tekia Moore

Abstract: This study focused on teachers’ perceptions of the use of storytelling and story reading in pre-kindergarten classrooms in order to address current national education goals for literacy skills in young children. A mixed method approach was used to obtain data. Twelve teachers were surveyed regarding intentional use of storytelling and story reading as well as child-initiated storytelling and story reading in various areas of the classroom. Follow-up in depth interviews were conducted with two teachers and sample lesson plans were obtained. Results indicate that implementing both storytelling and story reading components into multiple areas of the pre-kindergarten classroom would be beneficial to children’s development of literacy skills. Recommendations for practice included providing teachers with training and educational opportunities around literacy techniques such as storytelling and story reading in order to increase their ability to be successful in achieving national literacy goals.
Keywords: preschool, storytelling, story reading, literacy skills, classroom setting


Small Group Literacy Strategies in Kindergarten:A Study of the Effectiveness of Small Group and Focused Instruction forImproving Fluency in Letter Identification and Letter Sounds
Author: Melissa Trider

Abstract: Students that participated in small group instruction that utilized clear and focused instructional strategies outperformed the students that did not have access to focused, small group instruction (Kamps, et.al, 2008). This current quantitative study supports small group and focused instruction to improve student growth in the area of letter naming fluency and letter sound fluency for students performing below average in these areas. Results indicated that all students included in this study increased their performance on both letter naming fluency and letter sound fluency. Educators should implement consistent, small group instruction that is focused on a specific skill to improve student growth in letter naming and letter sound fluency.
Keywords: small group instruction, literacy strategies, fluency