This study combines these priorities by engaging teachers in in-service training focused on a play-based approach that supports children’s language and examines the implementation of the approach and its effects on their language skills.
The approach presented to teachers is simple: the teacher invites children individually to tell a story, which she transcribes as the story unfolds. She then reads the story aloud to the class and helps children act it out by miming the actions described, while taking advantage of opportunities to support the children’s comprehension, expression, and creativity.
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our research in 9 classrooms (6 in kindergartens and 3 in early childhood centres (CPEs)), but all teachers were able to participate in the in-service training. We were also able to collect data from children the following year in 4-year-old kindergarten, comparing a class in which the teacher attended the in-service training (experimental group) to a class in which the teacher did not. We found greater gains in story comprehension for the experimental group, but no significant differences between the groups in story production or name writing, although both improved (no group improved in letter knowledge). Teachers also reported multiple benefits of the new practices for children’s language, social, emotional and cognitive skills.
Based on these promising results, we recommend wider implementation of the practice and have created a teacher’s guide for this purpose. If other teachers are appropriately supported, we believe they will become adept at reinforcing language and emergent literacy through activities that children enjoy.
Diane Pesco, Concordia University
Deposit of the research report: June 2022