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Citation:Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2004). Family-school communication in preschool and Kindergarten in the context of a relationship-enhancing intervention. Charlottesville, VA: National Institute on Early Childhood Development and Education.

Annotation:
Like the study by LaParo, Kraft-Sayre, and Pianta (2003), this study uses data from the National Center for Early Development and LearningÕs Kindergarten Transition Project. The purpose of this study was to explore changes in patterns of family-school communication between preschool and kindergarten, and to identify family experiences associated with more frequent family-school communication. The Kindergarten Transition Project was an intervention involving children from two non-randomly selected preschools and the school kindergarten program. Participating children (preschool in year 1, kindergarten in year 2) were assigned to a transition coordinator who provided transition-related services both to families and to the schools. The study used a daily diary data collection method in which teachers and transition coordinators logged their communication with families of the 75 children participating in the project. Preschool teachers recorded communication for the first project year, kindergarten teachers for the second. The logging procedure differentiated between ÒprimaryÓ and ÒincidentalÓ contact or communication with families. Data also were collected from families via interviews conducted by the family workers. The study found that, in both preschool and kindergarten, communication was most frequent at the beginning of the year. However, there was significantly greater variability in the frequency of family-school communication in preschool than in kindergarten. The study also found a significant decrease in family-school communication between preschool and kindergarten. This pattern was consistent across family variables, including sociodemographic risk, familiesÕ use of pre-academic activities at home, and familiesÕ view of school staff. Even families who communicated frequently with their childÕs preschool teacher tended to communicate less often with their childÕs kindergarten teacher. The authors concluded, ÒAs children make the transition from preschool to kindergarten, family-school communication decreases. The frequency of family-school communication depends on program characteristics in preschool, but these program differences are concurrent only and do not have lasting effects into the kindergarten yearÓ (p. 22). This study does not address the effectiveness of the transition project, but rather provides descriptive and analytical data regarding patterns of family-school communication. The generalizability of findings is limited by the atypical circumstances of a transition intervention, although findings are consistent with those in more typical school environments.

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