Assistant Professor

Research Interests

My research projects and publications examine children’s social communication during play (e.g., co-construction of shared meanings, internal state language, connected speech), the impact of materials on children’s play, co-creating theatrical experiences with young children, and sustaining curriculum frameworks in the ECE field.  My research goals are to continue contributing to the understanding of children’s social interactions and emotional expression during play, investigating the partnership between families and Early Childhood Educators in rural areas, and how Educators use a pedagogical framework to promote play and learning.




PhD (2019) Concordia University – Education (Child Studies)

MA (2012) Concordia University – Child Study

B.Ed. (2010) Trent University – Teacher Education

B.A. (2008) Trent University – Psychology

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests are in the areas of children’s play, early childhood curriculum and pedagogy, family relationships, observation and documentation, and research methods.

Selected Publications

Leach, J., Howe, N., & DeHart, G. (2022). Children’s communication strategies used to initiate, sustain, and end connectedness during play with siblings and friends. Infant and Child Development (online version of record before inclusion in an issue).

Howe, N., Leach, J., & DeHart, G. (2022). “This is a mailbox, right?”: Associations of play materials with siblings’ and friends’ shared meanings during pretend play. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 20, 80-92.

Leach, J., Howe, N. & DeHart, G. (2021).  Children’s connectedness with siblings and friends from early to middle childhood during play, Early Education and Development.

Howe, N., Leach, J., Tavassoli, N., Farhat, F., & DeHart, G. (2020). “This is a pit of fire”: Associations of play materials with children’s creativity during play and internal state language.  Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

Leach, J., Howe, N., & DeHart, G. (2019).  A longitudinal investigation of siblings’ and friends’ features of connectedness and interaction quality in early and middle childhood. Early Education and Development, 30, 709-723.

Leach, J., Howe, N. & DeHart, G. (2019). “Let’s make a place where giants live!”: Children’s communication during play with siblings and friend early to middle childhood.  Infant and Child Development, 28, 1-17.

Handbook Chapters

Howe, N., Paine, A. L., & Leach, J. (2022). “Broccoli makes my feelings feel good”: Communication and emotions in conversations within children’s close relationships, In G. L. Schiewer, J. Altarriba, & B. Chin Ng (Eds). Handbook of Linguistics and Communication Science.

Howe, N. & Leach, J. (2018). Peers and Play.  In W. M. Bukowski, B. Laursen, & K. Rubin (Eds).  Handbook of Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups (2nd ed.). New York: NY: Guilford, Press.