The quality of individual interactions and the social-emotional development of toddlers
Lochem, F. van
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Introduction. Early childhood education and care can improve the social-emotional development of toddlers. The aim of this quantitative observational study is to expand knowledge regarding the influence of the quality of children’s interactions (children’s experiences with teachers-, peers- and tasks) at early childhood education centers. The second aim is to gain insight in the underlying structure of the inCLASS observational instrument. Methods. A sample of 120 children attending Dutch early childhood education and care were observed to investigate the underlying factor structure and reliability of the inCLASS. The inCLASS is an observational instrument that measures the quality of children’s individual interactions. Additionally, a total sample of 68 children of 28 classrooms participated in this study to examine the effects between children’s interactions and their social-emotional development. In addition, the teachers filled in a questionnaire to gain insight in the social-emotional development of the children. Results. The quality of all types of children’s interactions together contribute significantly to the social-emotional development of toddlers, as well as the quality of interactions with the teacher. Gender plays a moderating role in these relationships. Finally, evidence for a two-factor structure was found for the inCLASS. However, based on previous research, a four-factor structure was used in the current study. Conclusion. It was expected to find evidence for a four-factor structure of the inCLASS. However, little evidence for this factor structure was found. Therefore, the results of the current study should be interpreted with caution due to low reliability of the inCLASS. Altogether, the current study contributes to the knowledge of how individual children experience the quality of interactions and how these interactions influence the social-emotional development.