Kindergarten to Primary School
In Lithuania, Zippy’s Friends is taught in the final year of kindergarten, shortly before children move on to primary school. Many parents worry that their children may struggle to cope with the transition from the informal and familiar surroundings of their kindergarten to a larger and more formal primary school. The Department of Preschool Pedagogy at Vilnius Pedagogical University conducted a study of children in their first year of primary school, some of whom had participated in the Zippy’s Friends programme in kindergarten, to see if their participation had helped them with that transition.
The experimental group consisted of 140 children who had participated in Zippy’s Friends in the previous year, while still at kindergarten. The control group consisted of 106 children in the same classes, whose kindergartens did not offer the programme. The average age of the children was eight years old.
Three months after the beginning of the school year, the researchers gave questionnaires to the children’s teachers and parents, without revealing that the aim of the study was to look at the effects of Zippy’s Friends. They presented it as an investigation of children’s adaptation to the first year of primary school. The questionnaires were specifically designed for this study; two of them, on ‘Behavioural and emotional adaptation to transition’ and ‘Problems encountered’, were completed by both teachers and parents. The third, ‘Reactions observed in the new school environment’, was completed by teachers only. There was an impressive degree of consistency between teachers’ and parents’ responses.
The researchers made the following findings:
- The experimental group adapted significantly better to school, both behaviourally and emotionally, than the control group
- The experimental group reacted much more positively to the new school environment
- The control group had more problems in social relations, self-regulation, learning and discipline than the experimental group
- The experimental group used significantly more appropriate ways to solve problems (e.g. apologise, ask for help) than the control group
- The experimental group used a greater number of different coping strategies
This study showed that: ‘Participation in Zippy’s Friends is related to better adaptation to the transition from kindergarten to first grade.’ The programme specifically aims to teach social skills, how to make new friends, and how to cope with change, and the children in this study had clearly learnt how to put these skills into practice.
This study has been published as follows: Monkevicien?, O, Mishara, B L and Dufour, S, ‘Effects of the Zippy’s Friends Programme on Children’s Coping Abilities During the Transition from Kindergarten to Elementary School’, Early Childhood Education Journal, 34 (1), 53-60.
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