Early childood educators' perspectives on children's communication development : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Speech and Language Therapy at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
In New Zealand (NZ), Speech-language Therapists (SLTs) work collaboratively with Early Childhood Educators (educators), empowering them to apply their knowledge and skills to interactions with children with communication difficulties within their early childhood education setting (ECE setting). There is limited information about NZ educators’ perspectives about children’s communication development within ECE settings. The aim of this research was to engage with educators in a way that could empower them to share their beliefs, ideas, and perceptions about their everyday communication interactions with young children. This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews to gather the lived experiences and perspectives from 10 educators working in NZ. Iterative coding of transcripts and rigorous Thematic Network Analysis preserved educator voice, while revealing common themes relevant across the sector. These four global themes were 1) communicative environment, 2) coming to know, 3) alignment, and 4) enactment. Findings suggested that when there is convergence among the elements included in the themes, educators believed that children’s communication outcomes were positively enhanced; when there was misalignment, educator frustration, distrust, and/or disengagement occurred, and children’s reported communication outcomes were not optimised. This information may be useful for SLTs wanting to engage with educators in a collaborative manner, enhancing teamwork through understanding, and facilitating robust communication interactions. It may also inform educators and their management teams about the multitude of factors that contribute to educators’ convergent enactment of communication practice, positively influencing children’s communication development in ECE settings.