Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Activities: Involvement and Satisfaction of Families and Teachers

By Paro, Karen M. La; Kraft-Sayre, Marcia et al. | Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Spring-Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Activities: Involvement and Satisfaction of Families and Teachers


Paro, Karen M. La, Kraft-Sayre, Marcia, Pianta, Robert C., Journal of Research in Childhood Education


Abstract. This paper describes a preschool to kindergarten transition project in which families and teachers participated as part of the National Center/or Early Learning and Development's Kindergarten Transition Project. Over 80 high-risk children and families were followed from preschool through kindergarten. Family workers employed by the school system facilitated transition activities such as parent orientations, newsletters, and interactions with kindergarten teachers. Families and teachers were interviewed, and they completed questionnaires about their participation in and satisfaction with these activities. Results indicated that, when offered the opportunity, the vast majority of families participated in transition activities. Work schedules were the greatest barrier to families' participation. With respect to teachers, the majority of preschool teachers visited kindergarten classrooms with their preschool children. Although kindergarten teachers were involved in these visits, fewer kindergarten teach ers reported participating in transition activities overall. Kindergarten teachers reported summer work not supported by salaries and class lists being generated too late as the greatest barriers to participating in transition activities. Results are discussed in relation to parent involvement with schools, and have implications for the implementation of transition plans in preschools and kindergartens.

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The transition to kindergarten presents a major change for both children and families. Discontinuity in the form of differing contexts and differing demands exists for children and families as they leave the preschool year and enter kindergarten (Love, Logue, Trudeau, & Thayer, 1992). The results from a nationwide survey of kindergarten teachers in the United States indicate that although 95% of teachers implement practices to facilitate the transition from preschool to kindergarten for children and families, the vast majority of such practices are implemented after school starts and involve minimal contact with individual children and/or families (Pianta, Cox, Taylor, & Early, 1999). While teachers may send letters home or talk with children's parents after school starts, transition activities that link elementary schools with local preschools and early educational settings, and that establish effective communication with families and children before the start of school, are the exception, despite educators' recommendations for precisely these kinds of practices (e.g., National Education Goals Panel, 1998).

The importance of the transition to formal schooling is well-documented (Entwisle & Alexander, 1999; Love et al., 1992; Pianta, et al., 1999). Kindergarten provides children the experiences to draw conclusions about school and their abilities as learners in school (Pianta & Cox, 1999). Trajectories of school performance tend to remain relatively stable over time; children who experience success early on in school generally continue to demonstrate success in social competence and academic achievement (Alexander & Entwisle, 1988; Ramey & Campbell, 1991; Schweinhart, Weikart, & Larner, 1986). However, children who have a difficult transition to school and difficulty in adjusting to school usually have trouble catching up with their peers (Alexander & Entwisle, 1988).

Children's adjustment in the transition to school relies upon relationships with, and within, a wide array of contexts and persons, including the family, elementary schools and teachers, peers, and preschools and preschool teachers (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 2000). Interactions among these contexts and persons can be important sources of support that foster early school success, particularly for children who may find transition to school to be a particular challenge (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 2000). Within this framework, the National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL) undertook a two-year kindergarten transition intervention project that involved establishing informational and personal links among persons and settings involved in high-risk children's transition to kindergarten. …

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