Lynn is the Editor at Teacher Toolkit. With 20 years of primary teaching and SLT experience, she has been an Assistant Head, Lead Mentor for ITT and SENCO. She loves to write and also has her own SEMH and staff mental health blog: www.positiveyoungmind.com. Lynn…
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How do learning environments which foster general knowledge support learning attitudes?
This study (Jirout et al, 2022), explores the link between preschool enjoyment and general knowledge in an early years (kindergarten) context.
Early education provides an important, lasting foundation for future learning. Both in the skills and knowledge developed and in the development of attitudes and approaches to learning (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2022). Attitudes towards school and learning are important, but there is currently limited research on the subject. This study seeks to expand on prior work on the relationship between general knowledge and school enjoyment from preschool to kindergarten.
The main aim of the study is to test the hypothesis that school enjoyment and general knowledge at both preschool and kindergarten would significantly correlate.
Participants were children in preschools in mid-Atlantic U.S. school district in 2016/17. 83% of these students were eligible for free lunch with 14% eligible for reduced fee lunch. Students came from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds.
Results were triangulated by using a standardised general knowledge subtest, As well as a survey to find out school enjoyment levels.
The study states, for a study of this scale, it could only include the single measure of enjoyment at each test time. As well as, only the social studies and science subscales of general knowledge. Because the focus was to explore the student-level associations across time, it adjusted for classroom factors. Therefore, they are not yet able to discuss what might be happening in classrooms to cause changes to enjoyment or general knowledge.
I would add that another limitation of the study, is that it does not explore children’s home life linked to general knowledge. Hence, it would be difficult to state how much influence preschool has on general knowledge. As opposed to what is gained from home.
Covariates (age, gender, income status, Spanish-speaking), were unrelated to enjoyment. This suggests a somewhat universal early positive attitudes towards school.
Research indicates the importance of both enjoyment and general knowledge for school readiness and learning supported by a large diverse sample.
This study provides a preliminary exploration of the development of early school enjoyment and general knowledge from preschool to kindergarten.
A future direction worth exploring for preschool enjoyment stated by the researchers, is to explore factors that influence enjoyment. Then consider variations across subgroups. Furthermore they also consider exploring whether enjoyment might be an important contributor to achievement and future career aspirations.
Download the full paper
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