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In Brief:
Kindergarten Teachers Perceive Difficulty in Transitions to School

Web-only Article

Researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently completed a national survey of 10,071 public school teachers, collecting information about problems children experience with kindergarten transitions. While teachers reported that most children experience a successful entry into kindergarten, nearly one-fifth of children have difficult transitions characterized by "serious concerns or many problems."

The survey found that as many as 46% of kindergarten teachers reported that half of their class or more had specific problems with entry into kindergarten, including:

  • difficulty following directions (46.2%);
  • lack of academic skills (36.3%);
  • disorganized home environments (34.5%); and
  • difficulty working independently (34.4%).

In addition, teachers in districts with higher levels of poverty, teachers in rural districts, and teachers in districts with higher proportions of minority students all reported higher rates of difficulty in school transition.

Teachers' judgments about how well children transition from home or preschool to kindergarten can provide information about teachers' expectations of children entering school. This study suggests that teacher-perceived transition problems may reflect a poor "fit" between children's abilities upon entering kindergarten and the expectations and demands placed on them by the school environment. The researchers recommend that transition policies and practices be examined in light of the apparent discontinuities experienced by children and their families, schools, and communities as children leave one educational system (that of homes and preschools) and enter another (that of kindergarten and elementary school).

"Teachers' Judgments of Problems in the Transition to Kindergarten," S. E. Rimm-Kaufman, R. C. Pianta, and M. J. Cox, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2000.

Facts in Action, November 2000

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