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Gender as a moderator of the association between teacher-child relationship and social skills in preschool

The purpose of this study was to examine whether gender would moderate the association between teacher-child relationship and children's social skills in a sample of preschool children. Classroom teachers (N = 32) rated the quality of the teacher-child relationship (Student-Teacher Relationship Scale; STRS) and children's social skills (Social Skills Rating System; SSRS) in a sample of 160 preschool children in Oman. Children's ages ranged from 46 to 70 months with an average of 58 months (SD = 6 months). The hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis showed that the subscales (STRS) and the total score explained 21% of the variance in social skills. Gender was also a significant predictor of children's social skills. Females' close relationship with teachers predicted social skills better than males. Positive correlations were found between teacher-child conflict and both internalizing and externalizing behaviours, and between closeness and SSRS cooperation and self-control. Teacher-child dependence correlated negatively with both cooperation and SSRS total score. An independent-samples t-test showed that girls displayed higher scores than males in SSRS cooperation assertion, SSRS total score, and STRS closeness. Results inform policy-makers and practitioners about the gender disparity issue and the importance of developing positive and healthy teacher-child relationships in preschool. (author abstract)
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