Study reinforces significance of smaller kindy class sizes
- Smaller kindergarten classes (15 students or less) improve students’ cognitive function, literacy skills and one-to-one teacher interaction.
- Class size can have a significant impact on teachers’ workload, with smaller classes reducing teacher stress levels.
- The benefits of a reduced class size would be greater if teachers had targeted professional development to maximise teaching effectiveness in a smaller class size.
Impact for quality education
A recent study titled Relating preschool class size to classroom quality and student achievement has found that smaller classes resulted in more one-to-one interactions between teachers and students and improved student literacy skills.
The Canadian study conducted early this year examined the effects of kindergarten class size on classroom quality and student achievement.
There were clear benefits in children’s cognitive development when in a smaller class and results also identified students in the reduced size class had gained more literacy skills throughout the 12 months the experiment was conducted.
The study states that “high-quality preschool programs are characterised by experiences that include intentional teaching through which children learn and develop positive relationships with adults and other children.”
“Logically, program features set by policy and regulations such as professional development and class size should influence teaching and children’s classroom experiences.”
Professional development key
With increasing pressure on teachers due to work intensification, class size can have a significant impact on a teacher’s workload.
The study states that smaller classes have been found to reduce teacher stress levels, which contribute to a better learning environment through improved teacher–child interactions and indirectly by reducing teacher turnover.
Although there were no clear differences between the groups in regard to vocabulary or mathematics gains, the study makes the recommendation that positive results for the reduced classes would be increased if teachers had participated in professional development strategies aimed to maximise their effectiveness with smaller classrooms.
“Professional development efforts that help teachers think through techniques to take advantage of smaller classes may increase the effects of smaller classes.”
The study recommends further research is needed to examine how significant an impact targeted professional development for teachers would have on smaller kindergarten classrooms and student achievement.
To download the full study, click here.