Popular, rejected, neglected, controversial or average: Do young children of different sociometric groups differ in their level of oral communicative competence?

Social Development | Femke van der Wilt, Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers

Children’s sociometric status refers to their position within the peer group and plays a major role in their future social development. It is therefore important to investigate factors that are related to it. To date, little attention has been paid to the potential role of oral communicative competence. The present study investigated sociometric group differences in the level of oral communicative competence in a sample of N = 570 children in early childhood education. Sociometric status was measured using a nomination procedure. Based on peer nominations, children were categorized into five sociometric groups: (1) popular (generally well‐liked), (2) rejected (generally disliked), (3) neglected (low visibility and neither liked nor disliked), (4) controversial (high visibility and both liked and disliked), and (5) average (at or about the mean on both likability and visibility). Children’s level of oral communicative competence was assessed with the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics. Results of multi‐level analyses revealed significant sociometric group differences: children who were rejected or neglected by their peers exhibited lower levels of oral communicative competence than average children. Based on these findings, teachers in early childhood education are encouraged to pay more explicit attention to the promotion of their pupils’ oral communicative competence.

Why can’t I join? Peer rejection in early childhood education and the role of oral communicative competence

Contemporary Educational Psychology | Femke van der Wilt, Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum, Bert van Oers

The present study investigated the relation between oral communicative competence and peer rejection in early childhood education, as well as gender differences in this relation. Participants were N = 447 children aged 4–6 years. Children’s level of oral communicative competence was measured using the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics and a sociometric method with peer nominations was used to assess their level of peer rejection. Regression analyses revealed that, after controlling for gender, age, and SES, oral communicative competence accounted for unique variance in peer rejection and was negatively related to the extent to which children were rejected by peers: children with poorer oral communicative competence experienced higher levels of peer rejection. No gender differences in this relation were found. Future research demonstrating the causal effect of oral communicative competence on peer rejection can provide early childhood education teachers who try to prevent or reduce peer rejection a strong argument to focus on the promotion of children’s oral communicative competence.

Sociale relaties tussen kleuters: sociometrisch onderzoek uitvoeren

De wereld van het jonge kind | Full-text | Femke van der Wilt, Chiel van der Veen, Claudia van Kruistum

Welke kinderen liggen goed in de groep? Wie speelt met wie? Zijn er ook kinderen die buiten de groep vallen of die misschien wat minder opvallen? Kortom: hoe zit het met de relaties tussen jonge kinderen in de kleuterklas? Sociometrisch onderzoek is een manier om antwoord te krijgen op dit soort vragen. Hoe kun je zelf een sociometrisch onderzoek uitvoeren?

Gender differences in the relationship between oral communicative competence and peer rejection: An explorative study in preschool

European Early Childhood Education Research Journal | Femke van der Wilt, Claudia van Kruistum, Chiel van der Veen, Bert van Oers

This study investigated gender differences in the relationship between oral communicative competence and peer rejection in early childhood education. It was hypothesized that children with poorer oral communicative competence would be rejected by their peers more frequently and that the strength of this relationship would differ for boys and girls. A sample of N = 54 children was tested on the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics (NPT) to measure their oral communicative competence, defined as their ability to use language appropriately in a particular situation. Further, a sociometric method was used to measure the level of peer rejection and peer acceptance. No relationship was found between oral communicative competence and peer rejection. However, a positive relationship was observed between oral communicative competence and peer acceptance. Interestingly, this relationship only applied to boys. It is suggested that early childhood education teachers trying to enhance peer acceptance should take the promotion of oral communicative competence into account.