Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Teachers' Reported Transition Practices for Children Transitioning into Kindergarten and First Grade

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Teachers' Reported Transition Practices for Children Transitioning into Kindergarten and First Grade

Article excerpt

The transition for young children with special needs into general education public elementary school classrooms requires careful planning and coordination among professionals, families, and children so that children are prepared to function in their new environment and children and families do not experience major disruptions to their lives (Repetto & Correa, 1996; Rosenkoetter, Hains, & Fowler, 1994; Wolery, 1989). Although federal and state legislation requires transition plans for children moving from Part C infant and toddler programs into Part B preschool programs, specific transition plans are not required for children transitioning from preschool Part B programs into general kindergarten or 1st-grade classrooms. However, amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1997) contain mandates related to family involvement designed to encourage participation in educational planning such as the transition process. Although numerous papers focus on suggested or recommended transition practices for young children with special needs and their families and family satisfaction with involvement in transition (Conn-Powers, Ross-Mien, & Holburn, 1990; Diamond, Spiegel-McGill, & Hanrahan, 1988; Hains, Fowler, & Chandler, 1988), teachers' implementation of recommended practices and compliance with legal mandates related to transition for children with special needs have not been systematically examined. Using a national sample of general education kindergarten teachers, we present data about teachers with and without children receiving special education services in their classes reported use of kindergarten and 1st-grade transition practices.

The transition from preschool services to school-age services in general education classes is a change in many aspects of education for young children with special needs (Rule, Fiechtl, & Innocenti, 1990). Changes in classroom characteristics (e.g., higher child-to-staff ratio and more large group instruction) and teacher expectations (e.g., more autonomy and academic skill acquisition) between preschool and elementary school, coupled with the multitude of programs from which young children with special needs come (Wolery, 1999), result in a complex transition for young children with special needs as they move into public school general education kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms.

Families as well as children are involved in these transitions to general education classrooms (Conn-Powers et al., 1990; Hains et al., 1988). While children are adjusting to their new environments, families are learning to interact with new teachers, new service personnel, and new institutions (Hains et al.; Hanline, 1988). A survey of parents of children with special needs regarding their child's transition to public schools revealed that parents want to be involved with their child's education and feel welcome and respected at the school (Johnson, Chandler, Kerns, & Fowler, 1986; Trivette & Dunst, 1997). Although rigid policies may actually inhibit family involvement, providing information, facilitating communication, and encouraging participation have been demonstrated to address family concerns through the transition process (Johnson et al.; Hains et al.; Hanline & Knowlton, 1988; MacMillan & Turnbull, 1983).

This article draws from a survey developed by the National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL; 1996) that examined the reported use of a range of kindergarten and 1st-grade transition practices for a national sample of kindergarten teachers. Specifically, two major research questions were examined. First, what percentage of kindergarten teachers with at least one child receiving special education services in their class use kindergarten and 1st-grade transition practices specifically for young children with special needs and what percentage of these teachers use transition practices for their whole classes? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.