It is becoming increasingly difficult for students to transition from their pre-kindergarten environment to kindergarten. The focus of pre-school differs from that of kindergarten in that the academic demand becomes more pronounced. Teachers’ expectations of the academic output of their students increases and the teacher-student relationship shifts to a more lesson-centered one (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 2000). Mechanisms must therefore be made available to ascertain that students get the optimal environment necessary for them to fully appreciate their educational opportunity.
Epstein’s Theory of Overlapping Spheres of Influence shows that there are three spheres influencing the maturity and progress of children: the community, the family, and the school (Epstein, 2001). To produce therefore an ideal environment for the child, the different spheres need to interact with each other to offset defective areas not covered by the other two groups. This is not a question solely of correctly pinpointing on whom the fault lies and compensating for the same, it is required that there be an integration between family and school roles.
Communication between the spheres should birth joint goals and mutual purposes for the betterment of the child. Academic excellence can be achieved by the correct reinforcement of each sphere to each. We speak so far of three spheres however Epstein distinguishes between an internal and an external sphere. The community belongs to the external sphere and the family and school belong to the internal sphere. There is then a direct and constant participation by the family and school. These two influences may work together to counteract the disabling characteristics the external sphere may produce.
In this regard the school is better situated to take a lead role in prompting coordination. The school, being more keenly aware of the academic demands of the child to achieve excellence needs to put in place methods for a shift in the manner in which the home caters to these needs as well. Most parents may not be aware of the difference between their child’s pre-school and kindergarten. Thus, teachers should engage in communication to enhance awareness of the active role that is required of the family in this key academic transition.
Rimm-Kaufman and Pianta (1999) discuss this as a reaching-out effort. They further expand the school-family relationship by further establishing links prior to the start of school up to the pre-school connection. Thus, it is not only the present situation of the child that is considered but even the recent educational history. There is then an establishment of a transition that starts not only when the child enters the kindergarten classroom but earlier still, with a relationship beginning prior to enrollment in the educational system.
Ferguson and Wood (2005) focus on the communication not only between school and home but bring in the community as an active participator in the transition into kindergarten. It is discussed that there is a need to let families in the community as a whole know of the needs of kindergarten children and what they may do to help in the transition. A need for a gradual transition starting prior to enrollment is also espoused. As well as a belief that a personal relationship between the school staff and the children in the home environment need be established.
Thus, the community at large and the families personally are told of school expectations and are informed on how they may participate in helping their children cope. There is another approach regarding not spheres of influence but cultural contexts (Baker, Serpell, Sonnenschein, 1996). Repeated practices engaged in by the child are increasingly made more personal until the child appropriates such events as his or her own. Thus, activities done at home are made into personal affairs distinct from other activities and different environments. It is the same for activities performed in school and associated with a different background.
These cultural codes that the children practice daily are then the key to helping them transition. A more or less same perspective and purpose for similar activities given in different environments facilitates the shift into the demands of schooling. All the more as the home and the school are the main cultural contexts that the child works around in preschool years. Baker, Serpell and Sonnenschein also share the perspective that the shift should be gradual and emphasize the need to compare the goals, policies and ideas of pre-kindergarten teachers, kindergarten teachers, and families.
Identifying the common ground, the differences and the significance of each of these areas would be key to ascertaining the academic achievement and successful assimilation of the children in kindergarten. Interestingly, Froebel, regarded the father of the kindergarten, held a much different view on kindergarten then the one currently held. The kindergarten discussed so far is one more pointedly academic in nature than pre-kindergarten. It leans towards scholarly excellence for future admission and further performance in elementary and higher years.
Thus, kindergarten in itself holds a standard for determining educational quality in the community. More and more students are made to learn skills and vast amounts of information in order for schools to be able to compare themselves with other schools (Powell, 1999). Thus student achievement is more focused on test results than on the qualities held by the children themselves. This is a decidedly different priority from Froebel’s original view on kindergarten as centered on molding a social, moral, and intellectually prepared child ready to face the academic challenges of primary schooling (Ulich, 1957).
Froebel focused on the manner in which the child would face future pressures and demands and believed that cognitive development would be grounded simply through sensory or experiential learning. Froebel did not envision the same competitive pace that now face kindergarteners. However, the interaction between family and school was not neglected in his vision. Froebel believed that parent was the center of a child’s learning and gave primary importance on a strong family-school communication.
He regarded that teachers and parents had much to learn from each other as teachers might help parents know of appropriate teaching practices and parents would help teachers give support to their children (Jeynes, 2006). It is interesting that although Foebel espoused the view that teachers should emulate parents in the manner in which they related and taught their kids, he still outlined means by which the teachers should connect with parents for the benefit of the child. He also encouraged the continuance of a custom wherein teachers would visit with the families of students before the start of classes came around (Beatty, 1995).
Thus, it can be seen that although Froebel placed high regard on the capacity of parents and the family to determine the manner in which their children should be educated, the method should still be left to the teaching staff. All in all, the many approaches to family participation is centered on a school-led paradigm encouraging the shared views and goals of the school and the family. It is also held by the different perspectives that a gradual integration into kindergarten school life is needed. Thus, relationships need to be built amongst the many influences in the child’s social interaction groups.
These relationships should be molded together even before the enrollment or starting of classes in the kindergarten level. There is therefore, a call for a holistic view of the child’s past informal and formal education to better understand the manner in which his present education should be handled. The methods employed by the faculty should be clearly explained to the family so that there is a corresponding integration made in the home setting. However, these methods should also be planned in relation to the education thus far appreciated by the child and the shared goals that are shared by the interested support groups of the child.
It is further shown that an active role in communication, connection and participation is needed on the part of the family and of the school. Mere knowledge of the goings-on in school and scores attained in regular tests is not sufficient connection to ensure maximum achievement for the child. All in all, the different theories point to a lead role held by the teachers and by the school. Families may be interested in participating in their children’s educational experience but they have to be invited in by the school. It is the school’s responsibility to actively promote family participation in school activities.
And it is the teacher’s role to understand the family background and home environment of the students. Absent the conscious and persistent interest of the teacher in such relationship between family and school, the connection may not be completed. And absent this connection, there will always be a gap unbridged in the learning hurdle of the students the teacher is given responsibility over. Education is a holistic approach and education in the classroom may not be segmented from the education attained by the students outside the classroom. The family connection is apparent as the family is the primary provider of education.
The community connection too is needed as the family is not an isolated unit but is affected by the decisions and goals of the community as a whole. In order then for the teacher to achieve her goal of having her students excel to the optimal realization of their potentials, he or she must address the issue of integration of the different disciplines, skills, and ideas inculcated in her charges. The teacher then must step up and answer the needs of the children as they themselves struggle to enter the academic world bringing with them the lessons of home.
References Baker, L. , Serpell, R. , & Sonnenschein, S. (1996). Home and School Contexts of Emergent Literacy. National Reading Research Center Instructional Resource, 18, 1-23. Beatty, B. (1995). Preschool education in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University. Epstein, J. (2001). School, family, and community partnerships:Preparing educators and improving schools. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Ferguson, C. , & Wood, L. (2005). Easing the Transition from PreK to Kindergarten: What Schools and Families Can Do to Address Child Readiness.
National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools, 1-8. Jeynes, W. H. (2006). Standardized Tests and Froebel’s Original Kindergarten Model. Teachers College Record, 108 (10), 1937-1959. Powell, S. D. (1999). Teaching to the test. High School Magazine, 6(5), 34–37. Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. , & Pianta, R. C. (1999). Patterns of family-school contact in preschool and kindergarten. School Psychology Review, 28, 426-438. Ulich, R. (1957). Three thousand years of educational wisdom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Sample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com