Applied Psychology OPUS

Caregiver and Teacher Use of Evaluation and the Development of Latino Preschooler's Socio-Emotional Skills

by Lauren Scarola

National statistics show that the majority of Latino children enter kindergarten without the skills necessary for school success. Although these basic school readiness skills include literacy and numeracy, socio-emotional abilities, such as self-regulation and learning behaviors, are also necessary for a successful transition into kindergarten. Language interactions at home and school during the preschool years are critical contexts for the development of these skills. The present study examined the influence of caregivers’ and teachers’ language use on children’s socioemotional development. Forty Latino preschoolers, their caregivers, and Head Start teachers participated in this two-year longitudinal study. At the beginning of Year 1, caregiver-child and teacher-child naturalistic language interactions were recorded. At the end of Head Start years, children’s socio-emotional skills were assessed through teacher and investigator assessments. Language interactions were transcribed and verified using a standardized system, and coded for evaluative language (e.g., talk about emotions and intentions). Results show that mothers’ evaluative language was predictive of children’s positive learning behaviors only for the first year of Head Start, whereas teachers’ evaluation predicted levels of self-regulation during the first and second year. Results are discussed in relation to the independent and joint contributions of both home and school for children’s development of school readiness skills.