Transition from childcare to school: Surgency, center-based care and caregiver-child relationship predict self-regulation, social competence and well-being

Ruben G. Fukkink, Rosanne M.V. Sluiter, Minne Fekkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

There is an increasing interest in the precursors of children's learning and well-being in the transition from early childhood education and care to the early start of elementary school. In our study, we followed Dutch toddlers (N = 110) from childcare to the transition to elementary school and evaluated children's academic self-regulation, social competence and well-being in school. Children with high levels of surgency during their child care years have a less problematic transition to school and higher levels of well-being. Transition problems mediated the effect of temperament on self-regulation, social competence and well-being. Children from childcare centers had higher levels of social competence compared to children from home-based care. Conflicts in the caregiver-child relationship in childcare predicted maladjustment after entry in school. Aligning with an ecological perspective, characteristics at both child (temperament) and environmental level (type and quality of childcare) stimulated children to develop the foundation for their early learning at the onset of their school career. Educational relevance and implications statement: The transition from childcare to elementary school is more successful if children have higher levels of surgency, had positive relationships with their caregivers in childcare, and went to center-based care (i.e., not home-based care). The transition phase has a direct influence on children's self-regulation, social competence and well-being in the classroom. Parents, ECEC caregivers and teachers may share this information about children's temperament, childcare background (home- or center-based) and conflict in the caregiver-child relationship in ECEC with a warm transfer between parents, ECEC staff and teachers in a tripartite dialogue before the entry to kindergarten. Parents and teachers may subsequently share their perspectives on children's experiences during the first weeks at the new school at a follow-up. This two-step approach before and after the entry to school may support children's well-being and guide the socio-emotional and academic support of individual students during the important transition from childcare to school. Further, preventing or reducing caregiver-child conflicts in ECEC may prevent lower levels of children's social competence when they have entered elementary school.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102409
JournalLearning and individual differences
Volume110
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

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