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  • Publication
    Connectivity 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) ;
    The 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.