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Title: Does preschool experience matter? : the relevance of preschool education and home activities for children's cognitive and social development at school entry in rural China
Author: Qi, Xiaofei
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 8120
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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There has been growing interest in early childhood education and care (ECEC) globally, especially with respect to the possible benefits upon child wellbeing. In China, the government also has put great efforts recently in boosting preschool centre participation nationwide. The urban-rural disparities in the ECEC development, however, are great challenges. Moreover, little is known about the quality of these centre –based preschool programmes, especially in rural areas. Accumulating evidence from studies worldwide, largely from Western countries, indicates that high quality centre-based preschool programmes can be beneficial for child wellbeing. However, the cultural context is an issue of concern. This thesis investigates the relevance of aspects of home and preschool centre environments for children's cognitive and social development at preschool, measured one year before school entry (Phase 1), and later at school entry (Phase 2). The sample included 298 children (Mean age = 69 months, 151 girls) and families clustered in 19 preschool centres from rural China. Multilevel models were applied to the hierarchical data and these multilevel analyses revealed that, less than 10% of the variations in cognitive and social outcomes at school entry were attributable to the preschool-centre differences. After accounting for selected background factors, preschool home activities were relevant to various aspects of cognitive and social development during preschool and at school entry; home activities appeared to be more relevant to social development. Positive associations were found between preschool centre quality (based on ECERS-R and ECERS-E), teachers’ qualifications and developmental outcomes both at preschool and at school entry; preschool centre experience appeared to be more relevant to cognitive development and teacher-report behaviour outcomes. In summary, while child and family background factors such as age, gender, family income and parental education are important, the extent of home activities in the preschool years and preschool centre experience may both exert an independent influence upon children's cognitive and social development before school entry. These findings highlight the importance of higher quality of preschool centre experience and a better home learning environment for child development at school entry in rural China.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available