Publication Date

2013

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

Keywords

Teacher-student relationships-Psychological aspects, Early childhood education, Education, Preschool, Kindergarten, Teachers-Mental health, Depression, Mental, Preschool teachers-Psychology, Kindergarten teachers-Psychology, Early education, PreK, Kindergarten, Teacher depression, Socio-emotional outcomes, Teacher-child relationship, Behavior disorders in children-Etiology

Abstract

Considerable recent research has documented the negative impact of mothers' depression on the social and behavioral development of their young children. However, very little research has investigated possible similar impacts of depressive symptoms in children's preschool and Kindergarten teachers on those aspects of their development. The present study therefore explored the relationships among teacher depression, the quality of the teacher-child relationship, and children's behavioral outcomes in PreK and Kindergarten. Teacher depression was expected to have both a direct and indirect impact on children's behavioral outcomes. Namely, higher levels of depressive symptoms among teachers were predicted to be associated with more behavior problems and lower social competence for children. Additionally, higher teacher depression was hypothesized to be a predictor of lower quality teacher-child relationships, which in turn would predict more behavior problems and lower social competence. Participants were 1015 children enrolled in state-funded PreK programs across six states, 910 of whom were also followed to Kindergarten, and their teachers at each level. Structural equation modeling revealed a significant indirect relationship between teacher depression and children's behavioral outcomes in PreK and Kindergarten. As predicted, higher levels of depressive symptoms among teachers predicted lower-quality teacher-child relationships, which in turn predicted more behavior problems and lower social competence for children. However, the small direct relationships that emerged between teacher depression and children's behavioral outcomes (excluding behavior problems in Kindergarten) whereby higher levels of teacher depression predicted better behavioral outcomes were unexpected. These results have implications for the theoretical and practical importance of teacher depression for children's socio-emotional development, as well as for policy regarding ways to address this risk factor for children's development.

Language

English

Comments

57 p. Honors project-Smith College, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 54-57)

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