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Nurturing Social Experience in Three Early Childhood Special Education Classrooms

Author(s): Susan L. Recchia | Eleni P. Soucacou

Journal: Early Childhood Research & Practice
ISSN 1524-5039

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Early Childhood Education | Inclusive Classrooms | Special Education | Young Children | Special Needs | Teacher Attitudes | Classroom Environment | Social Development

This study explored the ways in which early childhood special education teachers supported children's social behavior within the context of their preschool classrooms. Data collected for six children through naturalistic classroom observations were coded and analyzed for emergent themes within a qualitative framework. Findings revealed a variety of strategies and behaviors used by early childhood special education teachers and their assistants to respond socially to the children in their classrooms. The data were grouped into five overarching themes: (1) teachers' adaptations to support positive social experiences, (2) positive emotional connections between teachers and students, (3) negative interactions between teachers and students, (4) teachers' promotion of positive social engagement with peers, and (5) teachers' help with conflict resolution. These data present multiple lenses through which to view children's and teachers' social experiences in the classroom, providing the potential for a richer understanding of both what is observed as well as how it actually transpires. The complexity of individual differences and classroom dynamics are discussed, with recommendations for practice and future research.
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