Phase 3 Summary
IEA Preprimary Project age-7 follow-up
The IEA Preprimary Project is a longitudinal, cross-national study of preprimary care and education. The purpose of the study was to identify how characteristics of early childhood settings, such as teaching practices and structural features, are related to children's language and cognitive development at age 7. The project is the first preprimary study sponsored by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Researchers from the HighScope Educational Research Foundation coordinated the project, in collaboration with colleagues in each of the participating countries. The late Dr. David Weikart, former president and founder of HighScope, directed the study.
The research is unique because many diverse countries participated and used common instruments to measure family background, teachers' characteristics, structural features of settings, children's experiences, and children's developmental status. An article based on the findings has been published in the Fall 2006 issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Controlling for family and cultural influences, four findings emerged that are consistent across all of the countries included in the data analysis.
Children's language performance at age 7 improves as
The predominant types of children's activities that teachers propose are free- choice rather than personal/social. From greatest to least contribution, activity types were as follows: free-choice activities (teachers let children choose); physical/expressive activities (gross- and fine-motor physical activity, dramatic play, arts, crafts, and music); preacademic activities (reading, writing, numbers, mathematics, physical science, and social science); and personal/social activities (personal care, group social activities, and discipline).
Teachers' number of years of full-time schooling increases.
Children's cognitive performance at age 7 improves as
Children spend less time in whole group activities (the teacher proposes the same activity for all the children in the class — songs, games, listening to a story, working on a craft, or a preacademic activity).
The number and variety of equipment and materials available to children in preschool settings increases.
Although even four findings that are common across all participating countries are enough to cast doubt on the belief that there are no universal relationships between preprimary practices and later behavior, there were other findings that varied across countries depending on particular country characteristics. For example, increased adult-child interaction was related to better age-7 language scores in countries that have less adult-centered teaching or activities that require group response, and to poorer language scores in countries that have more adult-centered teaching or activities that require group response.
The findings highlight the importance of allowing children to be active participants in their own learning, and of providing ample opportunities for children to choose their own activities, work individually or in small groups, and work directly with a variety of materials. The findings also reinforce the importance of the education of early childhood teachers
The study sample, the largest of its kind to date, included over 1500 4-year-old children in selected early childhood settings. Data for the longitudinal study were collected in 10 countries: Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Thailand, and the United States. International teams collaborated to develop the measures used in the study. Three observation systems and 3 questionnaires were administered at age 4. The observation systems included time-sampled information about how teachers schedule and manage children's time, what children actually do with their time, and the behaviors teachers use and the nature of their interaction with children. Children's cognitive and language developmental status was measured at ages 4 and 7. Information regarding teachers' beliefs about what is important for preprimary children to learn, setting structural characteristics, and family background was collected by interview.
For more information on the IEA Preprimary Project, see:
Montie, J. E., Xiang, Z., & Schweinhart, L. J. (Eds.) (2007). Role of preschool experience in children's development in 10 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.
Weikart, D. P., Olmsted, P.P., & Montie, J. (Eds.) (2003). A world of preschool experience: Observations in 15 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.
Olmsted, P. P., & Montie, J. (Eds.) (2001). Early childhood settings in 15 countries: What are their structural characteristics? Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.
Weikart, D.P. (Ed.) (1999). What should young children learn? Teacher and parent views in 15 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.
Olmsted, P. P., & Weikart, D. P. (Eds.) (1994). Families speak: Early childhood care and education in 11 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.
Olmsted, P. P., & Weikart, D. P. (Eds.) (1989). How nations serve young children: Profiles of child care and education in 14 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.
Preprint version of Early Childhood Research Quarterly article (Fall 2006)
IEA Preprimary Project findings hold great promise for children's performance
The Role of Preschool Experience in Children's Development
How Nations Serve Young Children