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Children’s experience starting kindergarten Waddle, Sandra Emily

Abstract

The transition to formal schooling is a critical period in the life of a child and their family (Maxwell & Eller, 1994). A successful transition to school is a predictor of not only elementary school performance, but also life outcomes (Maxwell & Eller, 1994). Children's opinions of the first year of this formal transition to schooling were explored, including what they say is important for them to know when starting school. Focus groups contained 3-4 children in Kindergarten from a rural area of British Columbia, four girls and six boys in total. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using qualitative methods. Data were coded into themes and sub-themes by three coders. Results indicate that children mention positive or negative feelings or attitudes about school most commonly (i.e. dispositions), making up 34% of responses. Skills was the second most common category, making up 23% of the responses. Rules comprised 18% of responses. These responses were broken down into activity descriptions, academic skills and non-academic skills. Children also discussed social adjustment, educational environment, physical, and family related factors as important when starting school. This study differed from previous research (Dockett & Perry, 1999, 2002) in which rules were more emphasised by participants. In this study rules were not discussed as frequently as in previous research. Rather, social-emotional concerns or dispositions, children's feelings and attitudes toward school, were more emphasised by participants.

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