Volume 17 (2010)
"Don't Treat Me Like I'm Bad!": Social Competence and Teacher Roles in Young Children's Social Development at Three Primary Schools in Trinidad
This qualitative case study investigated how teachers at three primary schools, classified as high-, medium-, and low-performing, contributed to social competence development in 5-7-year-old children. The schools served children from one community in Trinidad who were most likely to have come from disadvantaged situations. The Caribbean cultural context was considered in analysing the effectiveness of supports provided by teachers for children's social competence development. The results indicated that the children studied could be classified as 'Troublemakers', 'Troubled-aggressive' or 'Troubled-passive', 'Typical' or 'Good', based on the social behaviouirs they displayed. Each classification group seemed to have needed different types of assistance from teachers based on the origin and nature of the behavioural difficulties observed. Teachers at the three schools, however, responded with similar strategies of control to manage the behaviours of all children. These methods were ineffective. Teacher training, reduced adult-child ratio, and parent outreach programmes are recommended for supporting children's development of social competence.
Keywords: Primary School Students; Socialization; Social Attitudes; Social Adjustment; Child Development; Teacher Role; Trinidad and Tobago