Some of the most interesting work I’ve read about early childhood comes from Ross Thompson , a professor at the University of California, Davis. I heard him give a fascinating talk once about the importance of the mother child relationship for early learning.
This week, Education Week published a story about a new study indicating that the quality of the relationship between preschool teachers and students may be even more important to their learning than credentials, class size and other factors.
For reporters covering pre-school, the relationship question is worth pursuing, but tough to quantify. There may be certain clues, though, and all require close powers of observation and some background knowledge. The study provides yet another rationale for visiting pre-school classrooms to help shine some light on what happens inside — and why it matters.
It’s worth reading the study, which was released in the May/June issue of the journal Child Development. Authors include Robert Pianta, dean of education at the University of Virginia, who developed an assessment tool that measures 10 different aspects of teaching and is being used across the U.S. to train pre-school teachers. Some initial conclusions and useful observations can be found in the press release.
The information is a good starting point for classroom visits and questions to ask — all of which will lead to higher quality journalism.