Evaluating the socio-emotional and communicative development in day-care: Observational tools for nurses and parents  

Ongari B., Francesca T.
First author's affiliation: Department of Human and Social Sciences, University of Trento, Trento, Italy

This contribution focuses on a research project whose aim was to evaluate a battery of tools which allows caregivers (parents and nurses) to monitor the emotional wellbeing and the first emergence of the socio-communicative abilities of each child within the peer group at the day-care center. Using individualized observations our objective was to analyze the quality of the children’s socio-emotional adaptation to the educational context, particularly focusing on a) the quality of play and social interaction, b) the differences related to the temperament, c) the degree of the communicative competence. In order to obtain reliable individual profiles, the effects of variables such as age, sex, amount of time attending the day-care were controlled, as well as the concurrent validity of each tool. Nurses observed 265 children (22-38 months old) attending day-care centers using the Socio-Affective Profile (PSA, Dumas, La Frenière, Capuano, & Durning, 1997). A half of the sample was then submitted to other tools. Six specific episodes of the daily life for each child have been video-registered by the nurses and coded with a specific system for evaluating the Social Interactions (ISN, Ongari, Tomasi, & Zoccatelli, 2004) derived from the Play Observation Scale (Rubin, 1976).The mother and the nurse fulfilled the Italian Questionnaire on Temperament (QUIT, Axia, 2002), which assesses the usual behavior of the child in the relationship with others, during play and coping with unexpected things. Moreover, the connection between the quality of the affective-emotional adaptation and the socio-communication competence has been checked with a questionnaire (QCSP, Molina, Bulgarelli, Marsan, Spinelli, & Miceli, 2002). At last, a questionnaire which analyzes the representations of each caregiver with respect to her own effective interaction with the child and her image of her own caring role has been purposed to the mothers and to the nurses (QZ; Zaouche-Gaudron; Ricaud-Droisy, & Beaumatin, 2002).