Journal of Research in Childhood Education Vol. 18, No. 2, Winter 2003/04

Article excerpt

This issue highlights children's knowledge of social isolation, professional support for relative child care providers, undergraduate early childhood preparation, effects of teaching play strategies on social interactions for a child with autism, preschoolers' anatomical knowledge, and the design and implementation of a pediatric literacy education program. The first study examines age differences in the content of children's self-generated descriptions of withdrawn behaviors, such as active isolation, social disinterest, fearful shyness, and self-conscious shyness. Using child interview methodology, 1st- and 5th-grade children were asked to think about a peer who did not play a lot with others. Then, the children were asked to speculate on that peer's reasons, behaviors, and emotions for playing alone. The results suggest that children as young as 6 are capable of generating reasons, behaviors, and emotions that describe different forms of social withdrawal. This research identifies ways to assess socially withdrawn children and suggests differential interventions. The next study investigates the impact of a child care resource and referral project to support relative care providers. Over 300 relative care providers received direct contact with a professional child care consultant who provided materials, children's books, and information during on-site visits. Project evaluation results showed that 25 percent of the identified relative care providers received information that could positively influence the quality of child care in the home. The authors also recommend several strategies to improve the long-term outcomes of the project. The third study is a national survey of undergraduate early childhood programs in NCATE-accredited institutions regarding their inclusion of content related to serving young children and their families living in poverty. Three hundred twenty programs were surveyed, and 123 were included in the final analyses. Roughly three-fourths of the programs required some field experience working with low-income families; however, the preparation of students in dealing with the issues confronted by children and families in poverty is not as evident. The results from this study offer clear suggestions and directions for improving undergraduate programs to work with children and families in poverty. Drawing upon the literature of structured teaching and Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP), and employing case study methodology, the authors of the fourth study explore the effects of teaching play strategies on the social interaction patterns of a child with autism. Rich in description, this article documents how the teacher and researcher help the autistic child significantly increase a) the amount of complex play with toys and increase: b) the social interactions with typically developing peers, and c) the ability to generalize social skills to new settings. The implications for appropriate intervention strategies are well documented throughout this study. The fifth study investigated preschoolers' anatomical knowledge of salient and non-salient sexual and non-sexual body parts. Ninety-nine 4-year-old male and female children were asked to name body parts on a same-sex, anatomically correct doll. The preschoolers demonstrated greater anatomical knowledge of salient than non-salient body parts. The authors discuss gender differences and highlight implications for the educational, medical, and legal communities. The final study reports on the development and implementation of a pediatric literacy education program designed to improve the literacy experiences of low-income families. The authors interviewed 224 Spanish- and English-speaking primary caregivers of young children who attend an urban pediatric clinic. The research identified everyday activities that could facilitate language and literacy development and identified barriers to greater literacy orientation. The results of the research were used to develop a pediatric literacy program that would meet the needs of the clinic population. …