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11 - The Relations of Classroom Contexts in the Early Elementary Years to Children's Classroom and Social Behavior

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2009

Aletha C. Huston
University of Texas, Austin
Marika N. Ripke
University of Hawaii, Manoa
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Beginning formal education represents an almost universal developmental milestone that occurs near the time that children enter middle childhood. Although the major agenda of school is teaching academic skills, schools are social environments with expectations for behavior and social structures to which children need to adapt (Weinstein, 1991). School environments are small communities in which the social interactions are neither totally prescribed nor totally unconstrained. The expected behaviors go well beyond literacy and numerical skills to self-regulation (e.g., involvement in classroom activities, restraining disruptive behavior, attending to the agenda of the classroom, working autonomously), harmonious social interactions with adults (e.g., compliance, clear communications, positive social interactions, absence of defiance or conflict), and positive interactions with peers (e.g., cooperative activity, nonaggressive conflict resolution).

In this chapter, we ask how the social and instructional context of the school classroom contributes to children's social and behavioral competencies during middle childhood. We define context at the level of processes within the classroom that include instructional and emotional support for learning, positive and negative climate, and negative disciplinary interactions between teachers and students. We frame the questions at two levels. First, are there immediate associations between classroom contexts and children's social behavior within the classroom? That is, do children demonstrate different patterns of involvement, peer interaction, or disruptive behavior depending on such features of the classroom as teacher involvement, teacher sensitivity, and instructional style?

Developmental Contexts in Middle Childhood
Bridges to Adolescence and Adulthood
, pp. 217 - 236
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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