Kathleen Moritz Rudasill, University of Virginia
Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, University of Virginia
Laura M. Justice, University of Virginia
Khara Pence, University of Virginia
Abstract: Current educational policy emphasizes "school readiness" of young children with a premium placed on preschool interventions that facilitate academic and social readiness for children who have had limited learning experiences prior to kindergarten (Rouse, Brooks-Gunn, & McLanahan, 2005). The teacher-child relationship is viewed as a critical mechanism for the effectiveness of interventions (Girolametto, Weitzman, & Greenberg, 2003; NICHD ECCRN, 2003). Conducted as part of the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Project (PCER) at the University of Virginia funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, the purpose of this study was to determine how children's temperament and language skills predict teacher-child relationship quality. The sample consisted of 99 at-risk preschool students. Three findings emerged: 1) bolder children with lower language complexity were more likely to have higher levels of conflict in their relationships with teachers, 2) shyer children with greater language complexity were more likely to have dependent relationships with their teachers, and 3) teacher effects accounted for more of the variance in conflictual and dependent teacher-child relationships compared to children's behavioral inhibition and language complexity. This study shows that teacher-child relationships are multi-relational. Individual differences in temperament and language skills affect teacher-child interactions and, ultimately, contribute to the effectiveness of classroom interventions. Such information helps to unpack the complexities of classroom quality by increasing awareness among practitioners of factors contributing to positive teacher-child relationships.