There's Elly, it must be tuesday: Discontinuity in child care programs and its impact on the development of peer relationships in young children

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This study traces patterns of attendance, times of arrival and departure, and policies and practices surrounding enrollment and moving children from classroom to classroom in a child care center. It appears that children's efforts to acquire competence in developing friendships with their peers not only depends on their own capacities, but is also affected by above-mentioned patterns and policies and practices, over which children have no control. For a period of 6 months, we follow the trajectory of Elly, a young 3-year old girl, who is enrolled mid-year, part-time, in Sunshine Child Development Center. She is placed in a classroom with two-and-a-half to three and-a-half year old children, several of whom also attend part-time. It takes Elly 6 months to develop a meaningful relationship with some of her peers, an important yet tenuous milestone because, according to center policy groups will be reconfigured over the summer. Thus, Elly and her new friends may be placed in different groups in the fall. This study also documents the important role of social pretend play in helping children to initiate and develop friendships, especially in the company of more competent peers. Importantly, the child care center's policies and practices for transitioning children in and out of classrooms seem to be at odds with current research on attachment, continuity, and the development of peer relationships. Recommendations are made for creating environments where continuity of care and education for young children are a priority. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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Early Childhood Education Journal

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