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Educators' Intervention, Communication and Peers' Conflict in Nurseries

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The aim of the present study is to assess the role of educators' interventions and communications in peer conflicts between preschoolers. Ninety-nine children (47 females and 52 males) aged from zero to three years were observed in seven Italian nurseries during free-play, mealtime and structured activity. Their interactions (verbal and non-verbal behaviour) were video-recorded and transcribed. Event sampling with continuous recording rules was followed and a conflict coding system was used to analyse conflict episodes. Specifically, conflict antecedents, origins, unfolding, resolution, outcomes (solitary play, parallel play and together outcomes) and educators' intervention (direct, indirect or no intervention) were analysed. In addition, educators' communicative functions (tutorial, conversational, didactic, control and asynchronous) were assessed. Fifty-five peer conflicts emerged from analysis of the data, most of them between two males in the older group during free-play. Educators' interventions were associated with a lower frequency of together outcomes and educators' tutorial utterances, and with a higher frequency of educators' control utterances. The study emphasises the importance of a natural resolution of conflict and the role of the educator as a “tutor” with children younger than three years old. It could, therefore, offer useful suggestions to educators, stimulating them to encourage a spontaneous resolution to conflict, and thus to promote children's autonomy. Further research is needed to clarify the influence of other variables, such as friendship relationships, contextual aspects (e.g. composition of the classes, composition of the group) and cultural aspects.
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Keywords: Educators' Communication; Educators' Intervention; Peers' Conflicts

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2015

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