Teacher affection facilitates adjustment during the transition to primary school for children with poor relations with mothers and peers

Noona KIURU, Brett LAURSEN, Kaisa AUNOLA, Xiao ZHANG, Marja-Kristiina LERKKANEN, Jari-Erik NURMI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

Theoretical background and research questions: The transition from kindergarten into primary school is both challenging and stressful for the child, who has to cope with many new demands and challenges, such as building academic skills, learning to follow classroom rules, and forming relationships with a teacher and peers (Niesel & Griebel, 2007). Although most children cope well with these new demands, successful adaptation is not easy assured. Positive relationships with teachers, characterized by high degrees of warmth and support, facilitate a successful transition into school (Pianta & Hamre, 2009; Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 2000). This longitudinal study tested the proposition that teacher affection is a critical factor in the adjustment of children with relationship difficulties during the transition to primary school. Methods and results: Teachers rated the disruptive and prosocial behaviors of 378 Finnish children in kindergarten (Median = 6 years old) and again in grade 2 (Median = 8 years old). Relationship measures gathered in grade 1 included teacher reports of affection for the child, mother reports of support for the child, and classmate reports of peer acceptance. Path models showed that teacher affection, maternal support, and peer acceptance in grade 1 predicted lower disruptive behavior in grade 2. Teacher affection also predicted higher prosocial behavior in grade 2. Finally, high teacher affection buffered against adjustment problems for children with low maternal support and for low-accepted girls. Interpretation of findings: The results supported the tested proposition that teacher affection is a critical factor for adjustment during the transition to primary school for children who have poor relationships with their parents and peers. The results lend support for the deficit model of relationships (Laursen & Mooney, 2008), suggesting that teacher affection has a special role for adjustment at the beginning of formal schooling for children who receive low support from their mothers and for girls who are not accepted by peers. Although teachers have to work hard to build a positive relationship with children who have difficulties in interpersonal relationships, such effort is worthwhile as it can significantly 136 promote at-risk children’s future adjustment. To help children to develop positive social competence, teacher education programs should place greater emphasis on ways in which teachers can provide emotional support for their students and establish positive teacher–child relationships. Copyright © 2014 University of Jyväskylä.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

Citation

Kiuru, N., Laursen, B., Aunola, K., Zhang, X., Lerkkanen, M.-K., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2014, August). Teacher affection facilitates adjustment during the transition to primary school for children with poor relations with mothers and peers. Paper presented at the EARLI Conference on SIG 5 Learning and Development in Early Childhood, Jyvaskyla, Finland.

Keywords

  • Adjustment
  • Teacher affection
  • Relationship difficulties

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Teacher affection facilitates adjustment during the transition to primary school for children with poor relations with mothers and peers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.