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Exploring language skills and well-being in inclusive preschools: The impact of a dialogic reading intervention
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Special Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7040-8034
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Language skills during the preschool years are important for cognitive and social development, learning, and well-being, especially for children that are less proficient in the language that peers and teachers use for communication and teaching, known as the majority language. The overall aim of this thesis is to explore the effect of a practice-embedded introduction of dialogic reading in preschool, a method that engages children in conversation, using language-promoting strategies. Teachers performed dialogic reading for 85 five-year-old children in preschools. Children's linguistic progress was observed, while also recording their self-reported state of well-being. Based on the theme of language and well-being in early education, three studies were conducted. 

In Study I, a British well-being measure for young students, “How I Feel About My School (HIFAMS),” was translated, validated, and assessed for psychometric properties. In total, N = 228 children self-reported their well-being in early education. Study I included a combined sample of school-aged children (n = 143) and a preschool sample (n = 85), where the latter also participated in Study II and Study III. Study I confirmed a one-factor structure of HIFMAS in a confirmatory factor analysis with good model fit. The results showed that the HIFAMS can be used in Sweden to measure child well-being in preschool and early school years.

In Study II, structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship between language skills and self-reported well-being among preschoolers (N = 85). The assessment of language skills comprised both narrative and vocabulary abilities, while well-being was measured by HIFAMS. Language background (home language exposure) and gender were examined in relation to language abilities and well-being. Study II discovered no association between language skills and well-being. Children with a non-Swedish language use at home (additional language learners) displayed similar narrative skills but had less vocabulary. The results of Study II align with previous research, highlighting the significance of extensive language exposure for children whose home language differs from the language encountered in preschool.

In Study III, language development and child well-being were analyzed after a dialogic reading intervention. Ten preschool teachers delivered the intervention in small groups (four to eight children). The teachers performed the dialogic reading during two periods, and the children at each preschool were randomized to attend direct (group A) or delayed intervention (group B). The outcome measures were the same as in Study II and assessed pre-, mid-, and post-intervention. Study III showed that children improved their language skills after engaging in a dialogic reading intervention, with improvements regardless of language background. The well-being remained steady during the course of the trial. 

Taken together, the results of these three studies indicate that language development in terms of vocabulary can be promoted by dialogic reading, and children that are additional language learners show a similar progression as their peers. Furthermore, these studies show that self-reported well-being can be measured in the early education context and that children’s self-perceived well-being in preschool was not associated with early language skills. The implications of these studies and the significance of the results for educational practice are addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Special Education, Stockholm University , 2024. , p. 122
Keywords [en]
dialogic reading, language development, early childhood education, child well-being, vocabulary, narrative skills, professional development, universal intervention
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-227565ISBN: 978-91-8014-725-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-8014-726-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-227565DiVA, id: diva2:1845601
Public defence
2024-05-07, Lärosal 7, hus 1, våning 2, Albano, Albanovägen 28, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-04-12 Created: 2024-03-19 Last updated: 2024-04-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. How I Feel about My School—Adaptation and Validation of an Educational Well-Being Measure among Young Children in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How I Feel about My School—Adaptation and Validation of an Educational Well-Being Measure among Young Children in Sweden
Show others...
2021 (English)In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, ISSN 1661-7827, E-ISSN 1660-4601, Vol. 18, no 10, article id 5075Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The well-being of children has received increasing attention in recent years. Nevertheless, we lack adequate brief self-report tools that enable us to consider young children’s well-being in policy evaluations and educational research. This study describes the adaptation and first validation of theSwedish version of How I Feel About My School (HIFAMS), a subjective well-being questionnaire suitable for children aged 4 to 12 years, which was originally developed in the United Kingdom (UK). Descriptive statistics with analysis of psychometric properties and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) are based on the perceived well-being of 228 children in preschool and school aged 5 to 8 years old. The CFA endorsed a good fit to a one-factor model, and the scale showed moderate internal consistency (rα = 0.63). The results are largely in line with the findings of the original HIFAMS. We conclude that the Swedish version can be applied in early preschool/school settings and could provide first-hand information about children’s well-being from the first years of education until elementary school grades. Practitioners in early education settings might benefit from HIFAMS assessments when seeking to understand children’s current well-being to provide support to children with special educational needs or children at risk for mental health issues. Researchers could use the HIFAMS to standardize child well-being evaluations in policy evaluations and interventional studies.

Keywords
well-being, child self-report measures, young children, early childhood education
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-193106 (URN)10.3390/ijerph18105075 (DOI)000654828600001 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-03683Swedish Research Council, 2018-04012Swedish Institute for Educational Research, 2018-00018
Available from: 2021-05-11 Created: 2021-05-11 Last updated: 2024-03-19Bibliographically approved
2. Language skills and well-being in early childhood education and care: a cross-sectional exploration in a Swedish context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Language skills and well-being in early childhood education and care: a cross-sectional exploration in a Swedish context
2023 (English)In: Frontiers in Education, E-ISSN 2504-284X, Vol. 8, article id 963180Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Language skills play a vital role in academic achievement and support reading and writing acquisition. Language skills also enable children to interact with others and develop social abilities. Given the predictive value of early language skills for academic attainment and their connection to social interaction, they have been suggested to be an indicator of well-being as well. However, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds present lower scores than their peers with a majority language background on standardized language tests, such as vocabulary assessment. In the current study, we examined the relationship between language and self-reported well-being in the school context, based on data from a community sample of 85 five-year-old children attending eight preschools in three Swedish municipalities. Language skills were assessed through measures of vocabulary (receptive and expressive) and narrative skills (MAIN) and were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Narrative ability and vocabulary skills were correlated, but they appear to be distinct constructs. Exposure at home to the majority language was positively associated with vocabulary skills, while narrative ability was not strongly associated with language background. Language skills and well-being were not significantly correlated in the total sample, but post hoc analysis revealed that language background may affect the association. A novel contribution of this study is empirical data on language performance from a community sample with a large proportion of children with diverse language backgrounds. The relationship between subjective well-being and language skills warrants further investigation.

Keywords
additional language learning, narrative skills, vocabulary, well-being, early childhood education
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-217488 (URN)10.3389/feduc.2023.963180 (DOI)000998544400001 ()2-s2.0-85161045733 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-03683
Available from: 2023-05-29 Created: 2023-05-29 Last updated: 2024-03-19Bibliographically approved
3. Dialogic reading in preschool: a pragmatic randomized trial enrolling additional language learners
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dialogic reading in preschool: a pragmatic randomized trial enrolling additional language learners
2024 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, ISSN 0031-3831, E-ISSN 1470-1170Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Additional language learners are at risk of presenting lower language skills in the majority language compared to peers. These differences in language skills have been observed at an early stage of education and may impact academic achievement later on. A randomized trial with a switching replications design was performed in Swedish preschools to examine the effectiveness of small group dialogic reading, aiming to promote oral language skills. The sample comprised 85 children with diverse language, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds attending nine preschools in three school districts. Dialogic reading was conducted by ten teachers, trained in dialogic reading and coached by three special education teachers. The dialogic reading intervention was feasible in preschool context and children progressed in their oral language skills during the intervention.

Keywords
Dialogic reading, switching replications design, vocabulary, early childhood education, additional language learners
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-227558 (URN)10.1080/00313831.2024.2348473 (DOI)001214730500001 ()2-s2.0-85192232414 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-03683Swedish Institute for Educational Research, 2018-00018
Available from: 2024-03-19 Created: 2024-03-19 Last updated: 2024-05-21

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