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Preschoolers' Language Development Is Partly Tied To Their Classmates' Language Skills

Date:
May 18, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A new study shows that children's abilities to both speak and understand words developed faster when they were with classmates with better language skills. The study involved 1,800 preschoolers in over 450 pre-kindergarten classrooms in 11 states and entailed "receptive language" and "expressive language" testing for each child at the start and end of pre-kindergarten. Findings for this study offer ideas for designing and structuring preschool classrooms.

Young children learn how to speak and understand language from the words parents speak at home and teachers speak in preschool. A new longitudinal study has found that their preschool classmates also play a part.

The study is by researchers at the University of Virginia and Ohio State University.

The researchers took a look at more than 1,800 preschoolers in over 450 pre-kindergarten classrooms in 11 U.S. states. They tested children's skills in "receptive language" (including their understanding of vocabulary and grammar) and "expressive language" (including their speaking skills, which also involve vocabulary and grammar) in English at the start and end of pre-kindergarten.

Children's abilities to both speak and understand words developed faster when they were with classmates with better language skills. Going to school with children who had better language skills was even more beneficial for children who began preschool with higher language skills, and for those who were in classrooms that were well-managed.

"Classmates are an important resource for all children, especially for children who begin preschool with higher language skills," suggests Andrew J. Mashburn, a senior research scientist at the University of Virginia and the study's lead author. "This is likely because these children are better able to capitalize on their peers' skills for learning language. These results also indicate that teachers can promote children's language development by effectively managing children's behavior, which creates an environment in which children feel comfortable to converse with and learn language from one another."

Given the growing recognition that young children's language abilities affect their readiness for school and later school success, this study offers ideas for designing and structuring preschool classrooms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mashburn, AJ et al. Peer Effects on Children's Language Achievement During Pre-Kindergarten. Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 3

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Preschoolers' Language Development Is Partly Tied To Their Classmates' Language Skills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090515083658.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, May 18). Preschoolers' Language Development Is Partly Tied To Their Classmates' Language Skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090515083658.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Preschoolers' Language Development Is Partly Tied To Their Classmates' Language Skills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090515083658.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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