Bethany Bilodeau
Affiliation: Child and Family Opportunities
Exploring the Relationship Between Preschool Teacher Perceptions of Positive Teacher-Child Relationships and Classroom Practice
Abstract: In 2015, it was estimated that 4 million children entered kindergarten without the necessary skills to succeed (U.S Department of Education, 2015).  This academic and social deficit places children at a disadvantage which can be avoided when children are exposed to supportive learning environments characterized by positive relationships (Curby,, 2009).  The CLASS observation (Pianta, La Paro, & Hambre, 2008) classifies best practices in teacher-child interactions which are placed in dimensions within three major domains.  This research explores which dimensions teachers identify as important and the relationship with observed  practices as identified by CLASS.   16 teachers ranked CLASS dimensions in order of importance followed by a CLASS observation and relationship between the two was examined. This study supports the idea that teachers do practice the aspects of teacher-child interactions that they consider important, however a larger population sample is required to further this belief.
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Katherine Chandler
AffiliationBowdoin College Children’s Center
Title: Influence of Family Style Meals on Self-Regulation in Preschool Children
Abstract: This action research study looked at the connections between the frequency of family meal experiences and the self-regulatory capabilities of preschool aged children. Parents of 19 preschool children were surveyed to gain insight into the weekly frequency of family meals and discover how parents assessed their individual child’s capabilities. Within the preschool setting, children’s regulatory abilities were assessed through teacher evaluation of mealtime behavior. Both parents and teachers assessed four types of self-regulatory skills: individual table skills, interpersonal skills, health consciousness, and contributions to their family or school community. It was found that parents place high value on the communal family experiences that occur during family style meals in their homes and prioritize these opportunities for additional time. Children’s self-regulatory abilities both in school and home were not found to differ significantly based on the frequency of family meals experienced on a weekly basis.
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Samantha Crawford
Affiliation: AOS 93 – Jefferson Village School
Title: The Influence of Home Literacy Activities on Children’s Reading Performance
Abstract: Children with literacy rich home environments that include being read to, having access to reading material, visit libraries, and engage in literature conversations, experience literacy developmental success (Weigel, Martin, & Bennett, 2010). This quantitative study investigates the relationship of home literature activities and reading performance of second grade students.  A sample of 12 second-grade students participates in this research which analyzes the sample population’s standardized test scores with parent completed surveys. The data analysis includes parent surveys and standardized assessment scores from Northwest Education Association’s (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test and the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessments, System 1 (F&P). The data from parent surveys and the standardized scores predominantly indicates when children begin to read independently at younger ages, during the early years, they perform as more successful readers in second-grade.

Marsha Demers
Affiliation: AOS 92 Mid-Maine Technical Center
Title: The Effects of Teacher Gender on Children’s Behavior
Abstract: The researcher examined if the gender of high school student-teachers influence child behavior in the preschool classroom.  The lack of male educators in the early childhood field has limited the currently available research on how the teacher’s gender affects children’s behavior and learning (Sumsion, 2005).  Parents of seven boys and four girls between the ages of three and five years gave consent for their child to participate in the study.  One male and five female high school students enrolled in an early childhood occupations class agreed to participate in the study.  The researcher used video observations of the children interacting with high school student-teachers during planned and unplanned activities.  The study analyzed children’s behavior as they interacted with male and female student-teachers.  Children’s behavior differed when they participated in activities offered by male and some female high school student-teachers.

Emily Dustin
Affiliation: Essential Learning Solutions
Title: Influential Factors Determine Parental Choice for Preschool Selection
Abstract: This study investigated what key factors influence the decision of parents and guardians in preschool program selection. The participants were parents/guardians of a small NAEYC accredited child care center located in New England. If high-quality preschools do not meet the desires and needs of the families they are serving, then the parents/guardians will be less likely to enroll their children in the program. (Glenn-Applegate, Justice, & Kaderavek. 2016). The results indicated that quality is the most important factor in the participant’s decision to enroll their child in the program. Other factors that influenced the decision were curriculum, and education of teachers. The results of this work will help aid preschool programs, policy makers, and researchers in creating programs to meet the needs of the community. The results will also raise awareness of the many perspectives that parents have when it comes to preschool quality.
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Jasmine Estes
Affiliation: AOS 92- George J. Mitchell School
Title: Play and Social-Emotional Behaviors
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to observe and analyze the relationship of children’s behaviors during free play and teacher-directed play. Play is an important aspect of children’s development and is decreasing in today’s early childhood programs (Ashiab, 2007). Observations and a social-emotional behavior checklist were used to determine the types of behaviors visible during play in two kindergarten classrooms from an Upper New England elementary school. Twenty students were observed during free play and teacher-directed play. Observations were then coded based upon the types of play and what behaviors occurred during each type of play. Results for this study show that free play choices were of child interest, while teacher-directed play were academic based. Free play resulted in less aggressive behaviors due to children being more engaged in choices that were of interest to them. Further research is necessary to better understand behaviors that occur in various play situations.

Tiffany Frost
Affiliation: MSAD 54
Title: Is There a Relationship Between Home Literacy Environments and First Grade Reading Levels?
Abstract: This study investigates the connection between home literacy environments and first grade children’s reading levels. The study used the Fountas and Pinnell’s (Heinemann, n.d.) Benchmark Assessment System 1 to assess the reading levels of thirteen first grade students. The Familia Inventory (Taylor, 1996/2000) parent survey was used to assess home learning environments. On average, children that read on or above grade level live in homes where there is more parental modeling of literacy behaviors. School and public libraries are also used more frequently in the homes of children reading on or above grade level.
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Jessica Lyons McMichael
Affiliation: MSAD 17/Agnes Gray Elementary
Title: Approaches to Delivering Assessments within PreKindergarten Classrooms and Children’s Evidence of Letter Identification
Abstract: The purpose of this research study was to investigate if the approach used to assess children’s letter identification within a PreKindergarten classroom has an influence on how they perform. This mixed methods study used PALS – Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening, (Invernizzi, Meier, Sullivan, & Swank, 2004) a formal assessment tool and informal classroom teacher observations to determine children’s uppercase and lowercase letter identification (visual identification, pointing, saying the name, and matching the letter to the sound). The twelve participants in this study ranged from four to five years of age, and were enrolled in a rural, full day, five days a week public PreKindergarten program located in New England. Findings indicate that, on average, children identified more uppercase and lowercase letters during formal assessments than during daily classroom observations. When applied appropriately both assessment methods are valuable instruments for individualized planning and goal setting (NAEYC, 2009).

Mary Maxfield
Affiliation: BRCOT/Biddeford
Title: Children’s Use of Books During the School Day and the Home Literacy Environment
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of children looking at books in the reading  area of the classroom and to see if there was a relationship with parent reports of the home literacy environment. Data was collected in a Career Technical School’s laboratory preschool classroom using a checklist for child book engagement. Also used was data from a survey, completed by parents, on the home literacy environment. Specifically of interest was children’s exposure to books as well as their interest in books while at home. The study found that the number of books at home did not have an impact on children choosing to look at books at school. Also, children who showed a low interest in books at school had parents who reported their child had a high interest in books at home.
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JoAnn Meyer
Affiliation: W.G. Mallett School, RSU 9
Title: Exploring the Connection Between Physical Activity and On-Task Behavior of Kindergarten Students
Abstract: Increased academic demands on kindergarten students require them to be on-task for longer periods of time.  The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of increased physical activity breaks on kindergarten students’ on-task behavior during small group and independent center work.  This mixed methods study employed an experimental design with an initial baseline phase followed by a physical activity treatment phase.  Data was collected using a planned activity check observation method and observational field notes to compare on-task behavior during the two phases of the study.  Data analysis indicated that physical activity breaks was associated with improved on-task behavior directly after the physical activity.  When longer periods of time elapsed between the physical activity and data collection observation, on-task behavior showed no-change when compared to the baseline phase data.  Results point to the benefits of physical activity breaks for promoting on-task behavior immediately after the break is given.
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Emily Murray
Affiliation: Bowdoin College Children’s Center
Title: Developing Risk Assessment Skills: The Role of Parental Attitudes and Nature Play
Abstract: The current culture in the United States seeks to minimize the amount of risk that children are exposed to. However, the opportunity to take risks, try one’s strengths, and experience uncertainty and failure have been shown to increase resiliency, independence, and overall well-being (Little & Sweller, 2015). Young children need the opportunity to take physical risks in their play in order to develop these traits and their understanding of their environment and the natural world around them. This action research study sought to understand parental attitudes towards young children taking physical risks and how they impact children’s risk-taking behaviors and the development of their risk-assessment skills. Nine children were observed and their parents surveyed. A strong relationship was found between parental attitudes towards hypothetical risk-taking scenarios and children’s actual risk-taking behaviors during play. Parents who rated hypothetical scenarios as more risky tended to have children who exhibited risk-averse behaviors, while parents who ranked hypothetical scenarios as less risky tended to have children prone to taking risks.
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Gretchen Parlin
Affiliation: Regional School Unit #1- Bath Regional Career and Technical Center
Title: Does Free Play vs. Teacher-Directed Play Affect Emotional Behavior in Young Children?
Abstract: Play is an essential part of young children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical well being (Veiga, Neto, & Rieffe, 2016). This is an innate need and children benefit by being able to explore during free play as well as teacher directed play. Today’s classrooms have less free play and recess than only ten years ago. This study looked at nine 3-5 year olds to see if any emotional change happened when the play changed. The average score for free play was 3.46 vs the baseline 3.20 and the average score for teacher-directed play was 3.42 vs the baseline 3.20 out of 5. The research showed that four out of nine students performed better during teacher play. Anecdotal data supported the results by showing that the children were better able to concentrate and verbally share information about the different types of play.

Courtney Schools
AffiliationRSU #9 Farmington District, Cape Cod Hill School
Title: Exploring Technology Usage at Home and the Relationship to the Development of the Tripod Grasp in Kindergarten Age Students
Abstract: This research explored the development of the tripod/pincer grasp of 16 Kindergarten aged students and the activities these children engaged in when at home, with particular focus on fine motor and technology usage (both passive and interactive). This research used a mixed methods approach, using both classroom observations and a survey filled out by parents of participating students. This research fills a gap in existing research regarding the link between technology use and fine motor control in young children, as very little currently exists. The research found that fine motor activities at home helped facilitate the development of the tripod/pincer grasp at school, whereas large amounts of time spent engaging in passive technologies did not. The research also found that interactive technology was helpful only if the child utilized a stylus over their finger.
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Susan Shea
Affiliation: Stevens Brook Elementary School
Title: The Association Between Playful Learning at Home and School and the Development of Number Sense
Abstract: This study examined the influence playful learning has on the acquisition of mathematical skills related to number sense. Twelve students from a rural kindergarten and their families participated. In school, the children engaged in a play-based learning environment that integrated mathematical skills over a six week period.  In the play-based experience students could take on the role of a clerk or a customer in a pretend shoe store. The participants were pre and post tested in number identification, missing number, and quantity discrimination using a standardized tool. Parents were asked to fill out a survey inquiring about mathematical play at home. Children who had experienced fewer playful math experiences at home showed the most growth in number identification across the school year. Further, children with the greatest growth in number identification were more likely to take on the more mathematically challenging role of clerk in the pretend play scenario.  Overall, all participants increased their math skills in all three skills measured within this six week period.

Nykki Stevens
Affiliation: Southern Kennebec Child Development Corporation
Title:Social Emotional Development and the use of the Pyramid Model in a Head Start Prek Collaboration Program
Abstract: This  research examines the implementation of the Pyramid Model for social emotional development (Center for Social Emotional Foundations and Early Learning, 2017) in a Head Start Prek collaboration program. CSEFEL (2013) indicates social emotional issues as a leading cause of preschool expulsion. Children were pre- and post- tested using two standardized measures of social-emotional development over the course of the year during which the Pyramid model was implemented. Overall, teachers noted improved social-emotional skills for both Head Start and non-Head Start groups. However, parents of Head Start students were more likely to report a decrease in social-emotional risks than non-Head Start parents. Study findings suggest that implementation of the model was more effective in improving social-emotional behavior, especially for group situations for at-risk students.

Kristina Tobey
AffiliationYork County Community Action – Saco Head Start
Title: Social Interaction and Interactive Technology in the Preschool Classroom
Abstract: Increased use of technology in early childhood classrooms comes with new concerns about how technology may impact the development of social skills in young children.  This mixed methods study examines how the use of a multi-touch table influences social skills and interactions of preschoolers in a head start setting.  Eight children ages three to five were video recorded while using a multi-touch table during free choice time in groups of three for ten minute increments.  Tracking sheets were used to track how often social interactions occurred for each child.  Results indicated students played cooperatively 12% of their time and parallel to each other 3% of the time.  The qualitative data indicated verbal interactions among peers included asking for help, encouragement, and sharing their likes and dislikes.  Findings from the study highlight the importance and value of social interaction during group technology usage in the classroom and its implications for social development.
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