chapter  6
20 Pages

The Transition to Formal Schooling and Children’s Early Literacy Development in the Context of the USA

ByKELLEY L. MAYER, STEVEN J. AMENDUM, AND LYNNE VERNON-FEAGANS

The transition to kindergarten (fi rst year of formal schooling in this context) in the United States occurs around the age of 5, and is generally thought of as a child’s entry into formal schooling. It is an important time in the life of the child, his or her family, and the school. Often the concept of transition is closely related to the concept of “readiness,” particularly in the professional literature (e.g., Meisels, 1999). Ensuring that children begin kindergarten ready to learn requires that families, school professionals, and researchers alike pay close attention to a complex and signifi cant change for young students (Bohan-Baker & Little, 2004). In fact, in the past, researchers seldom acknowledged the transition to kindergarten as a complex process involving children, families, schools, and communities, and instead focused on individual characteristics of the child as important in the transition to school. A transition to school framework which integrates contextual factors over time is viewed as a more accurate portrayal of children’s experiences than a framework centered on child factors alone and this framework has been embraced by recent reviews of the literature, special journal issues, and national consensus reports (Bohan-Baker & Little, 2004; Lewitt & Baker, 1995; National Association of State Boards of Education, 1991; Pianta, Cox, & Snow, 2007; Vernon-Feagans & Blair, 2006; Vernon-Feagans, Odom, Panscofar, & Kainz, 2008). Such a framework recognizes the importance of families, schools, and communities to the transition process in addition to child factors.