T. Grozde1, M. Batistič Zorec2, S. Tatalović Vorkapić 3

1Kindergarten Najdihojca (SLOVENIA)
2Pedagoška fakulteta Ljubljana (SLOVENIA)
3University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
The transition of children from home to preschool (in Slovenian preschools, there are children from one to six years old) is one of the first turning points in a child's life. After months spent in a safe shelter of home, the child has to get used to a completely new environment and new people and adapt to previously unknown situations. It is vital what kind of approach and communication with children and parents are provided by the preschool and teachers. In some of the Slovenian preschools it is common practice that all new arrivals are admitted to the class at the same time at the beginning of school year. However, in some preschools, enrollment is organized over a more extended period, if possible, after maternity leave.

This research was done as a part of the Croatian project with international collaboration: Children's well-being in transition periods: The empirical validation of the ecological-dynamic model. The study aims to analyze children's adaptation to preschools from their teachers' view and compare two different transition approaches to preschool mentioned above. A descriptive method, as well as a qualitative and quantitative research approach, have been used. As a technique, we used the on-line questionnaire for preschool teachers (261 teachers from all Slovene regions). To get a more in-depth insight, we also conducted interviews with two teachers and two counsellors from two preschools.

The results showed that the transition approaches and adaptation of children to preschool differ between preschools and among preschool teachers. A good half of preschools accept all newcomers in September. Nevertheless, some preschool teachers encourage parents to stay in the class with their child long enough. The interviewed preschool teacher and the preschool counsellor are mostly satisfied with the children's adaptation process, but they say that it rarely lasts longer than one week. The possible explanation for this is that that the teachers hardly have enough time to individually devote themselves to each child and parents in such circumstances. On the other hand, the teachers from preschools in which only a few children are enrolled in the preschool class at once think this kind of adaptation is less stressful. They feel they have more time to communicate with each child and their parents. Such transition approach allows the child enough time to get to know the new people and environment and be able to separate from his or her parents.

Regardless, according to the surveyed and the interviewed preschool teachers and counsellors, parents are mostly satisfied with preschool adaptation. It could be suggested that this satisfaction is primarily the result of preschool teachers’ effort to make a positive climate in class in which children feel secure, what can be one of the guidelines for future research studies in this field.