Language development in the early school years: The importance of close relationships with teachers.


This longitudinal study examined developmental links between closeness in teacher-child relationships and children’s receptive language ability from the end of the preschool years into the early elementary years, while controlling for changes in peer interaction quality and child behavioral functioning. The sample included children and their parents and teachers (N = 4,983) participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) at ages 4-5, 6-7, and 8-9 years (3 waves). Teachers reported on levels of closeness in relationships with individual children. Independent assessments of receptive language were employed. Parents and teachers reported on peer interaction problems and child conduct problems. Results indicated reciprocal associations between close teacher-child relationships and receptive language development above and beyond associations with peer interaction quality and child behavioral functioning. However, the effects were only modest.