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Perspectives of preschool educators on early childhood education's impact and role on school readiness and the social-emotional development of children
This study examined the factors that contribute to the construct of school readiness and the relevant life-outcomes of preschool education from the perspectives of early childhood educators. A non-probability, purposive sample of 34 preschool educators was used to collect data with a questionnaire as the data collection tool. The respondents were asked to indicate their conceptions of school readiness and its perceived impact on a continuum of academic and socio-emotional paradigms. The findings indicate that in addition to the importance of preparing children for academic work, the study participants perceive the construct of school readiness to include an emphasis on the development of “the whole child.” The impact of preschool education is perceived by the respondents to be a continually unfolding process of outcomes extending into adulthood. The study findings also identified a further need to clearly define the goals and objectives of preschool education with a focus on retaining a conception of the preschool environment, with developmentally appropriate practices and instruction creating that structure. Statistically significant moderate correlations were noted [r (34) .456, p < .01] between the importance of social and emotional competencies development as a contributor to life outcomes and the importance of appropriate expression of emotions for successful task management. Mean difference in score on approach to preschool education between the two groups “traditional academic” and “whole child” was noticed. However, overall responses indicate an agreement on the importance of pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills between educators with these two group classifications. Recommendations from the study include the need for preschool curriculums to maintain an equitable balance between assessments oriented academic milestones and enriching socio-emotional development based activities.