Cathy Guttentag, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
April Crawford, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
Susan H. Landry, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
Jeffrey Williams, Ph.D.
Tricia Zucker, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
Description of the Project:
This three-year study developed and documented the feasibility and promise of a professional development intervention targeting teachers of at-risk toddlers in childcare settings. The first two years were spent developing and field-testing each component of the intervention, and the third year included a small, randomized control pilot study of the complete program. The 12-week intervention, called “Toddler Language in the Classroom” (TLC) was designed to improve at-risk toddlers’ language outcomes by increasing quality language and literacy experiences in the childcare setting. The intervention includes didactic training and in-class mentoring to assist teachers in achieving knowledge of early language development, empowerment in their role in supporting toddlers’ language development, and competence in applying specific language promoting strategies within daily caregiving contexts such as meal/snack time, centers/free play time, circle/book-reading time, outdoor time, and transition times.
Participants in a pilot program conducted from Fall 2013 to Spring 2014 were 20 teachers and 117 children in 20 toddler childcare center classrooms in the Greater Houston area. Centers met eligibility criteria by having at least 50 percent subsidized childcare slots, and classrooms had at least five children between 24-36 months of age initially scoring below average on a language screening measure.
Twenty community childcare centers in the greater Houston area
In comparison to teachers in the control group (who received no intervention), teachers who received the TLC intervention showed greater improvements in overall classroom quality, classroom organization, and language environment, as well as greater knowledge of early language development and appropriate developmental practices for toddlers, greater perceived self-efficacy in their teaching role, and less perceived chaos in their classrooms. Toddlers in TLC classrooms showed greater gains in expressive language and better story-retelling skills than toddlers in control classrooms. Toddlers in the TLC program were also rated by their teachers as having fewer behavior problems and being more competent than toddlers in control classrooms.
Results of this pilot study were presented at the Zero to Three National Training Institute in Seattle, Washington, in December 2015 and are being prepared for publication.
Efforts are currently underway to obtain funding to test the TLC intervention with a larger group of teachers and children.