Bright and early

Coaching increases the quality of early childhood programs

By Noelle V. Banuelos, Mariel K. Doerfel and Rachael E. Stoffel
Categories: Coaching, Research
December 2019
Vol. 40, No. 6
For nearly 15 years, Child360 (formerly Los Angeles Universal Preschool) has offered coaching services to early childhood education providers who serve children up to age 5 in public centers and family-based childcare homes. These coaching services give educators the support they need to ensure their programs are places where children are happy and healthy, and where a love for learning is born. Coaching at the preschool level substantially improves teacher instruction (Kraft, Blazar, & Hogan, 2018), which in turn produces higher-quality environments and practices that lead to better outcomes for children (see Pianta, Barnett, Burchinal, & Thornburg, 2009). With this in mind, Child360’s coaching model integrates research-based practices that promote teacher competency, confidence, and professional growth. Coaching and professional learning are crucial for developing early

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Noelle V. Banuelos, Mariel K. Doerfel, and Rachael E. Stoffel

Noelle V. Banuelos ( is a research and evaluation consultant, Mariel K. Doerfel ( is a research analyst, and Rachael E. Stoffel ( is a marketing and communications specialist at Child360 in Los Angeles, California.

Comments from coaches

Coaches reported observing that teachers improved instructional and behavioral strategies during the year. The following are examples of coaches’ comments during focus groups:

Instructional strategies

  • “By increasing their ‘why’ questions, the teachers engaged the children further by having them analyze and reason their comments and ideas more deeply.”
  • “The teacher was able to ask children open-ended questions during small group. She was also able to prep the questions ahead of time and write them on sticky notes for the assistants to ask as well.”
  • “Increased use of visuals to support children to know what to do, success with connecting concepts to children’s experiences, and teaching concepts in the context of children’s play and hands-on experiences.”

Behavioral strategies

  • “I was able to work with [teacher name] on supporting students with aggressive behaviors by coming up with strategies to use in her classroom. These strategies also included helping the teacher practice mindfulness to remain calm.”
  • Research suggests that when coaches receive the support and mentoring they need, the quality of coaching they deliver is significantly higher.


Autry, J.A. (2001). The servant leader: How to build a creative team, develop great morale, and improve bottom-line performance. Roseville, CA: Prima.

California Department of Education. (2017). Quality Counts California Rating Matrix. Available at

Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, D. (2005). Appreciative inquiry: A positive revolution in change. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Isner, T.K., Tout, K., Zaslow, M., Soli, M., Quinn, K., Rothenberg, L., & Burkhauser, M. (2011). Coaching in early care and education programs and quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS): Identifying promising features. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

Kraft, M.A., Blazar, D., & Hogan, D. (2018). The effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 547-588.

Pianta, R.C., Barnett, W.S., Burchinal, M., & Thornburg, K.R. (2009). The effects of preschool education: What we know, how public policy is or is not aligned with the evidence base, and what we need to know. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 10(2), 49-88.

Schein, E.S. (1999). Process consultation revisited: Building the helping relationship. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

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Categories: Coaching, Research

The Learning Professional

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