The effects of an in-service course to develop early childhood teacher’s skill in positive behaviour strategies and the development of a current doctoral research project in parent-teacher partnerships to address problematic behaviour in children

Year: 2016

Author: Phillips, Joanna, Tyler-Merrick, Gaye

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Children with persistent challenging behaviour are at-risk of developing antisocial behavioural patterns that have the potential to reduce the development of their social and emotional skills, decrease academic potential and heighten their vulnerability to exclusion through isolation from peers and teachers. Effective intervention can alter this developmental trajectory. However, early childhood teachers report they need assistance in addressing children’s persistent anti-social behaviour. This study investigated current behaviour management strategies used by six teachers at one privately funded preschool and examined the effects of training and coaching early childhood teachers in the effective use of positive teaching strategies to increase the children’s pro-social behaviour and decrease antisocial behaviour in the three and a half to five-year-old children attending the preschool. Direct observations, use of a rating scale and reflective teacher questionnaires were the measures used. The findings indicated the teachers’ initial understandings of basic behavioural strategies such as contingent praise and attention were limited and that they would benefit from an in-service training program. The training program was presented in two, 2 hour sessions followed by a total of 4 follow-up visits. The results found that all the teachers increased their descriptive praise statements and contingent responses to children’s positive behaviours. An increase in teacher praise was accompanied by an increase in pro-social child behaviour and a decrease in antisocial child behaviour. An implication of these findings was that there was no family collaboration in this teaching model, thus a second study is currently being developed which will investigate the effects of training and coaching teachers and parents together in universal social and emotional competence strategies for the preschool and home settings. The aim will be the development of a collaborative and culturally responsive process where teachers and parents work together to develop the same social and emotional competence support strategies with this providing consistency for children across settings and also provide teachers and parents a common guide to teach pro-social behaviour and decrease antisocial behaviour, thus reduce the need for higher level interventions.