Children's Perspectives on the First Year of School: Adjusting to the Personal, Interpersonal and Institutional Aspects of School

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This research focuses on children's adjustment to the personal, interpersonal and institutional aspects of the first year of school. Children's adjustment to school has been described as a developmental transition (Belsky & MacKinnon, 1994) therefore an ecological approach was drawn on to place children at the centre of the adjustment process, and to develop a model of child adjustment that supported the design and methodology of this study. The first aim of this study was to examine children's social and emotional adjustment to school over their first year. To achieve this aim, a new measure was developed to elicit children's feelings about school scenarios, as well as their feelings about the teacher, and their strategies for coping in stressful and non-stressful situations. Results from interpretive and descriptive analyses of individual children's responses on this measure indicated that between 8% and 56% of children experienced feelings of stress, anxiety and negativity towards one or more aspects of school at the beginning of the year, with this range of percentages increasing to between 6% and 83% of children at the end of the year. In particular, Going to the toilet by yourself and Watching other children play in the sandpit, were the most stressful scenarios for children at the beginning and end of the school year. Over time, children's reasons for their negative feelings about school situations focused more on interpersonal relationships, particularly those with peers, than on personal or school-related factors, suggesting that children's experience of stress in their first year of school was linked to social and behavioural expectations of school.The second aim of this study was to develop a theoretical model of child adjustment which could be used to examine the change in children's perspectives of school over time.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Harrison, Linda, Principal Supervisor
  • Owens, Kay, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Feb 2008
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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