Teacher-Child Interactions and Children's Peer Engagement in Pre-Kindergarten
Children's competent engagement with peers in pre-kindergarten classrooms is important for their development of school readiness social skills, as well as social relationships (Howes, 2010). This study examines the relationship between classroom-level teacher-child interactions and individual children's peer engagement across a classroom day. Multi-level regression models indicate that domain-specific teacher-child interactions focused on the intent and content of cognitive facilitation were positively associated with children's peer sociability, assertiveness, and communication, suggesting that effective instructional interactions are associated with higher level peer interactions within classrooms. In contrast, domain-specific teacher-child interactions focused on the intent and content of positive management and routines were negatively associated with all types of peer engagement, providing some support for the idea that teachers may also need to develop skill in engaging in teacher-child-peer interactions. No significant associations were found between domain-general responsive teaching and children's peer engagement within PreK classrooms. Implications are suggested for supporting children's peer engagement within classrooms and ultimately influencing their school readiness by increasing teachers' effective use of instructionally supportive interactions.