Bridging early educational transitions in learning through children's agency

Dunlop, Aline-Wendy (2003) Bridging early educational transitions in learning through children's agency. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 11 (sup 1). pp. 67-86. ISSN 1350-293X (

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A longitudinal study of continuity and progression in children's early education reported the significance of the transition from preschool to elementary education for later school success. It was found that the nature of this particular transition is influential for children, parents and educators and therefore for the educational system. An ecological framework was used in order to embrace the complex nature of educational transitions. Educators in 8 preschool and 4 primary school settings, and their managers, were interviewed to explore beliefs about early education. The same educators were observed as the 28 focus children in a cohort of 150 children were tracked during their final year before school and their first year of school, and their written documentation including planning and reports were scrutinised. It was found that despite the similar language used by early educators in early years preschool and primary settings to describe their intentions and motivations for children, there can be major discontinuities between settings, relationships, pedagogy and curriculum and that consequently there are increased challenges for children and for their parents and educators. It is proposed that educators need to collaborate more and to move on from a shared use of terminology to shared meanings, in order to develop a shared conceptual framework which attends to cognitive,social and emotional aspects of children's learning in transition. Certain measurable elements of school progress were noted as part of the local authority's value-added record keeping and it has been possible to make links between educational attainment and other variables. The cohort of children is now entering the last year of primary school education and a number of focus children will now be involved in a study of their transition to secondary education.