Humor and Laughter as Intentional Teaching Strategies: Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators
Date of Award
Master of Arts in Education
Early Childhood Education
Dr. Kelly Sadlovsky
humor, laughter, Early Childhood Education (ECE), professional development, social-emotional development
Research has shown that humor and laughter benefit young children’s social-emotional development (Lovorn, 2008; Semrud-Clikeman & Glass, 2010). Humor and laughter also benefit teachers (Chaniotakis & Papazoglou, 2019). However, despite the benefits, research has also shown that teachers may be hesitant to use humor and laughter for fear of "losing control," not feeling inherently funny, and/or because teachers have not been taught how to use humor effectively (Chaniotakis & Papazoglou, 2019; Lovorn & Holaway, 2015). Cekaite and Andrén (2019) revealed that teachers in early childhood settings rarely responded to children’s laughter with laughter. The difference between teachers’ beliefs and practices around humor and laughter was evident in the literature, which raised the question of how professional development designed to teach educators how to use humor intentionally could positively impact children’s social and emotional development while also benefiting the teachers themselves. A solid breadth of research is available about social-emotional benefits of laughter. However, a review of the literature revealed limited research on humor and laughter in early childhood settings and limited research about humor and laughter training for teachers. Therefore, this literature review examined professional development about other early childhood topics that could offer insight into how humor training for early childhood educators may impact teaching practices. Results suggested that effective professional development about humor and laughter may alter teachers’ attitudes and practices which could ultimately benefit children's social-emotional development.