A longitudinal study of children’s stress and coping during transition to school

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Abstract

This study is a longitudinal study on children’s stress and coping during the transition from preschool to school. This study examined how children’s perception of stress factors and coping strategies are constructed over time. Children were interviewed at three stages, including last month at preschool (Time 1), first three month at Year 1 (Time 2) and last month at Year 1 (Time 3). This study also explored teachers’ and parental strategies in helping children to cope with stress at school. The sample included 216 six-year-old children, their parents and teachers. The findings show that children generally could make accurate predictions of unhappy things that might happen during the transition. Children reported being incompetent in fulfilling teachers’ expectations regarding learning, self-help skills and conforming to rules. Children also reported peer conflicts and being nervous about authority. Children learnt direct problem solving skills, seeking social support and emotional regulation at preschool, but had only used the first two coping strategies at school. Compare with parents’ and teachers’ responses, children reported more incidences of social stress, and more parents reported children encountered social stress than teachers did. More parents thought that transition problems had affected children’s emotions, but more teachers thought that transition problems had affected children’s learning. Some children felt a sense of helplessness during the transition to school, and their feelings toward school did not change as they grew. Parents’, teachers and children strategies in helping children to cope with stress were systematically compared and discussed at the end of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015

Citation

Wong, M. (2015, July). A longitudinal study of children’s stress and coping during transition to school. Paper presented at The 22nd International Conference on Learning and the Learner knowledge community, Universidad San Pablo CEU, Madrid, Spain.

Keywords

  • Child voice
  • Parent voice
  • Teacher voice
  • Stress
  • Coping
  • Kindergarten

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