THE CHALLENGES OF CHILDREN’S TRANSITION TO KINDERGARTEN: HOW DO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS PERCEIVE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHILDREN DURING TRANSITION?
The transition from home to kindergarten is one of the first transition during childhood, and at the same time the most challenging for the child. Contemporary discourses in the field of childhood transitions indicate that this is a very complex process that has a multilevel impact on the child, thus determining this impact by a number of different factors. One of the key ones is the relationship between the educator and the child. Given that one of the basic tasks of the curriculum for early and pre-school education is to support the overall psychological well-being of children, which is a particular challenge during transition from home to kindergarten, and thus adaptations in kindergarten, extremely it is important to investigate the extent to which the educator-child relationship is determined during the transition and adjustment of the child, and what the relationship is between these two extremely important variables. Therefore, the main goal of this research is to analyze the course of transition and adaptation in kindergarten, and how it relates to the relationship between educator and child. Starting from this goal, the research included non-random sample of 15 educators who assessed their relationship with children (N = 236), and the course of transition and adaptation in kindergarten. To assess the course of transition and adaptation, the assessment of three statements on a five-point Likert-type scale was used, and the STRS was applied to assess the educator-child relationship. Descriptive analysis showed moderate levels of existing difficulties during transition and adaptation, an increased level of satisfaction during transition and adaptation, and an increased level of satisfaction with collaboration with parents. The expected increased levels of closeness and reduced levels of conflict with children were identified within the studied relationship between educators and children. Correlation analyzes have shown that older educators assess significantly more frequent satisfaction with transition and adaptation, as well as significantly better cooperation with parents. At the same time, older educators estimate significantly lower levels of conflict with children. A significantly higher number of difficulties during transition and adaptation was found to be associated with a lower level of satisfaction during transition and adaptation. A higher number of difficulties during transition and adaptation are significantly associated with the younger children. Furthermore, it was found that the less conflict with children, the greater the estimated satisfaction during the transition and adaptation of children in kindergarten. Furthermore, significantly higher closeness with children is significantly associated with increased quality of cooperation with parents. Finally, it was found that educators assessed significantly higher conflicts compared to boys and younger children. In conclusion, one of the few studies such as this, opened an important question of the relationship between educators and children during challenging situations in the educational context, because it is both - a demanding period in the child's life and a demanding work situation for educators themselves. Therefore, it is important to conduct further research in order to articulate useful guidelines for improving practice during the transition and adaptation of children from families to kindergarten.