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- PublicationConnectivity and continuity in Ireland: Bridging the gaps across schools and families during the preschool to primary school transition(University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022)
;0000-0002-6500-0170The importance of creating positive connections during the preschool to primary school transition is well established with links across home, preschool and primary school environments directly and indirectly impacting children’s transition experience. Transitions are not a static point, but are rather a continuous process that require connections and collaborations before, during, after the transition to primary school happens. However, research in Ireland has shown a lack of continuity and collaboration during the transition from preschool to primary school, which in some cases has resulted in a disconnect in parents’, preschool teachers’, and primary school teachers’ school readiness priorities and expectations. The current thesis explores the preschool to primary school transition through the lens of connectivity which in the context of this research refers to the development of high quality, inclusive transition policies and school bridging and alignment practices that strengthen the relationships between schools and families in order to support children’s adjustment to primary school. Framed by the ecological and dynamic model of transitions, social and cultural capital theory, and the five bridges of school transfer, this thesis aims to explore experiences of connectivity during the preschool to primary school transition through multiple stakeholder perspectives. This included family-school connectivity, as well as preschool-primary school connectivity, bridging practices, and the high-level policies that support continuity and alignment during the transition. Presented over three papers, the current thesis sought to gain a greater understanding of the complex nature of connectivity during the preschool to primary school transitions as well as investigate benefits and challenges of creating continuity and alignment in transition policy and practice in Ireland. Using data collected from the Children’s School Lives (CSL) national longitudinal study of primary school in Ireland, this thesis explores family-school connectivity both qualitatively and quantitatively to gain an in depth understanding of teachers’ and families’ experience of connectivity. This thesis further explores patterns of connections that can impact parent experiences from disadvantaged communities. Combined, the three papers highlight the value of creating consistent policies and practices at the national level to support schools and families as they forge connections to support children’s transition during this crucial developmental period. 226
- PublicationChildren's School Lives in Junior InfantsThis report is the third in the series from Children’s School Lives, an innovative, longitudinal research study involving almost 4,000 children in 189 primary schools. One of the defining features of the study is the strong emphasis it places on listening to and learning directly from children about their experience of being in primary school in Ireland. This particular report introduces us to the youngest children in the study. The multiple perspectives gathered from the children themselves, their families, teachers and school principals, converge to provide us with a rich, detailed picture of the children’s first year in school. Uniquely, this period incorporates the months just prior to the arrival of the Coronavirus on Irish shores and the weeks immediately after the commencement of the first national lockdown in Spring 2020. Early childhood is a time of being and becoming, a time which provides important foundations for children’s learning and for life itself. We know from research that the first six years of a child’s life, their early childhood years, are particularly important for their holistic development. We also know from research that a positive transition from preschool to primary school is a predictor of children’s future success in terms of social, emotional and educational outcomes. Yet, despite this knowledge, relatively little research exists in the Irish context on children’s initial experiences in primary school. The Children’s School Lives study responds directly to this research gap by capturing, through multiple voices, comprehensive insights into the children’s initial weeks and months in their primary classrooms.