The Effects of Verbal Support Strategies on Small-Group Peer Interactions Purpose: This study investigated whether child care providers could learn to facilitate peer interactions by using verbal support strategies (e.g., prompts, invitations, or suggestions to interact) during naturalistic play activities. Method: Seventeen caregivers were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups, stratified by center so that staff from one center ... Research Article
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Research Article  |   July 01, 2004
The Effects of Verbal Support Strategies on Small-Group Peer Interactions
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Luigi Girolametto
    Graduate Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, 500 University Avenue, Room 160, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1V7
  • Elaine Weitzman
    The Hanen Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Janice Greenberg
    The Hanen Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2004
The Effects of Verbal Support Strategies on Small-Group Peer Interactions
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2004, Vol. 35, 254-268. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2004/024)
History: Received October 6, 2003 , Accepted January 16, 2004
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2004, Vol. 35, 254-268. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2004/024)
History: Received October 6, 2003; Accepted January 16, 2004

Purpose: This study investigated whether child care providers could learn to facilitate peer interactions by using verbal support strategies (e.g., prompts, invitations, or suggestions to interact) during naturalistic play activities.

Method: Seventeen caregivers were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups, stratified by center so that staff from one center could attend the training program together. The experimental group received inservice training on how to facilitate peer interaction; the control group received training on adult-child communication strategies. Caregivers in the experimental group were taught to facilitate children’s interactions with their peers by using indirect referrals (e.g., alerting children to situational information, offering praise) and direct referrals (e.g., telling a child what to say to a peer, inviting children to play together).

Results: At posttest, the caregivers in the experimental group used more verbal supports for peer interaction than the caregivers in the control group. Specifically, they used more utterances to promote communication between peers and to invite children to interact together. In turn, the children in the experimental group initiated interactions with peers more often and engaged in extended peer sequences more often than the children in the control group.

Clinical Implications: The results support the viability of this training model in early childhood education settings and suggest that future research of its effects with children who have disabilities is warranted.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This study was sponsored by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. We thank Maureen O’Keefe, research officer, for her guidance, patience, and help in every step of this project, from recruitment to data collection and data transcription. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Heather Flowers and Nadia Abisaleh for transcription and coding of the videotaped caregiver–child interactions. Above all, we are deeply appreciative of the participation of the day care supervisors, the child care providers, and the children and their families.
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