Sociocultural Influence on Children's Social Competence: A Close Look at Kindergarten Teachers' Beliefs

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social competence, kindergarten teachers' beliefs, sociocultural influence


This study was conducted with White American kindergarten teachers from a southeast region of the United States to examine their beliefs about culture and social competence. Overall, from a sociocultural perspective, these teachers had limited understanding of young children's social competence and showed varying degrees of cultural knowledge for different racial/cultural groups: African American, Hispanics, and Asians, from the most to the least. In addition, several insights, such as teachers' personal beliefs about social competence, represented low-context cultural beliefs; teachers' major source of cultural knowledge was professional experience; and teachers' beliefs about multicultural education revealed color-blind teaching emerged through the qualitative individual interviews. Taken together, the findings of this study have implications for practice in early childhood teacher education, such that institutional support should be in place to provide teachers with opportunities to become aware of their own identities and beliefs. It is also suggested that teacher education programs should restructure the educational courses to embrace the sociocultural influence on child development and learning, as well as expand multicultural preparation courses, to enhance teachers' multicultural knowledge and skills beyond the level of awareness.

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Journal of Research in Childhood Education, v. 24, issue 1, p. 80-96

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