Children's perspectives of their everyday lives with a focus on the transition from early childhood centre to school
The aim of this ethnographic study was to explore New Zealand children's perspectives on their everyday lives with a focus on the transition from early childhood centre to school. Sixteen children, whose average age was four years and three months at the beginning of the study, were observed, interviewed and listened to, in the three settings of home, kindergarten and school over a period of sixteen months. The children were followed individually on their last session in the kindergarten and their first morning in school. Field notes and videotaped interviews were analysed according to four main issues. The first examined the roles, activities and relationships children engage in at the kindergarten, home and school. The second issue explored children's views of the changes that took place over the transition from kindergarten to school. The third issue concerned friendships in the kindergarten, and in school and examined the importance of these friendships at the time of transition. The fourth issue was children's understanding of the concept of family, and the importance of family members before, during and after the transition to school. The major theoretical assumptions used were ecological theory and sociocultural theory. There was a variety of activities in the kindergarten which allowed child initiation and choice, and the relationships with adults were informal and reciprocal. The children at home had control over most of their activities and were able to negotiate with adults when they felt it was to their benefit. In school the children's activities were usually directed by the adult and choice was limited. Control for their own learning and physical activites was no longer possible and the independent roles taken in the kindergarten and home were no longer available. Lack of understanding of language used in school caused children problems in following directions. All of the children in the sample wanted to go to school, but there were discontinuities between the three settings in roles, relationships and activities. Friendships which developed in the kindergarten did not continue into school, and knowing other children did not appear to play a major part in easing the transition. Close friendships with the researcher developed, and she provided support in the early days of school. Children's concept of family incorporated the traditional family of parents with two children, but only half saw solo parent families as families. Members of each child's family contributed to helping the transition in a variety of ways. Mother was the most important figure for all the children, as they were dependent on her to establish and continue friendships, and for support in the early days of school. The intersubjectivity between mother and child played an important part in the child's learning. The study draws attention to the difficulties which children face when making the transition from kindergarten to school. The mismatch between settings suggests that more communication is needed between kindergarten and school, and between home and school.
Advisor: Smith, Anne
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis