A Comprehensive Look at Peer Social Competence in Preschool

Tracy Carter Clopet, Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer


Best practice in early childhood assessment supports a comprehensive multi-method, multi-source measurement approach, with tools validated for use with culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse populations (National Research Council, 2008). This study employed this approach, by incorporating teachers’ and outside observers’ perspectives on children’s positive and conflictual engagement with peers in the preschool classroom to examine how peer social competence was related to gains in academic readiness skills for 527 Head Start children. Children’s positive engagement with peers was related to increased gains in language and literacy skills and conflict engagement with peers was associated with fewer gains in alphabet knowledge and mathematics. Findings support the need for a comprehensive measurement approach that includes multiple perspectives and methods for examining peer social competence with culturally and linguistically diverse preschool children from low-income backgrounds.


multi-method, multi-source; peer social competence; school readiness; Head Start

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This journal is a publication of the NHSA and the CEME at UNC Charlotte.