Background of the Study
Transition from pre-school to pry level of education has been internationally recognised as an important in children’s life (Perry, Dockett & Petriwskyj, 2014). Scholars have focused on exploring a wide range of variables involved in this process which have led to the current knowledge and understanding of the topic in different countries around the world. Empirical evidence has now shown the potential effects this change can have in preschoolers’ transition in a variety of domains such as social, cognitive and emotional (Rosenkoetter et al., 2009; Schulting, Malone & Dodge, 2005). Studies have also emphasised the important role a smooth transition plays in children’s later academic life in primary school (Berlin, Dunning & Dodge, 2011). Evidence has also suggested that preschoolers having a smooth transition to pry classes can have positive long-term effects in academic performance and personal development (Dockett & Perry, 2007).
Ensuring the provision of high quality of education as well as an adequate access to primary school for children aged 5-7 around the world has been on the global agenda as a major concern (OECD, 2011). The problems associated with smooth transition has also been highlighted by international organizations such as UNESCO and OECD. Specifically, the importance of this transition has been emphasised as part of the United Nations’ second Millennium Developmental Goal which aims to ensure universal access to primary school (Nelson, 2011). In addition, this organization has also recognised the importance of securing a smooth change for preschoolers transitioning to primary school since one of the major global concerns is placed in reducing drop-out rates in different countries (UNESCO, 2014). Research on transition supports the notion that a smooth transition leads to better academic performance which in turn is linked to a decrease in drop-out rates in schools. The evidence also suggests that educational systems around the world differ according to the particularities of each cultural context (UNESCO, 2010) and that as a result, the way in which this transition is experienced by children, also differs. This phenomenon, frames the way in which appropriate interventions are implemented so as to support this period of change (Perry, Dockett & Petriwskyj, 2014).
Research on transitions has helped to understand this process and come up with the most effective policies and strategies so as to lessen its effects. Research in this respect has been carried out in countries such as Australia, Iceland, China, Italy, Greece, United Kingdom and United States, but little has been done in Latin America. As a result of the research done in these countries, a number of educational policies to support this process have been suggested which specifically address their own cultural characteristics. However, in Latin American countries such Mexico, no research has been done which focusses on this transition process within the educational system particular to each country. Interestingly, The Mexican government has made preschool into a mandatory level for all children aged 3-6 as a requirement for primary school (McConnell-Farmer, Cook & Farmer, 2012), however no educational policies have been developed to ensure a smooth transition. These premises call for the need to undertake research in this respect given the lack of studies in this region of the world and given the need to ensure a smooth transition into primary school in light of this educational reform established in 2002 and put into practice in 2004.
The national education system in Nigeria has undergone a significant change in the structure of the basic education scheme which comprises nine years (six and three years of primary and secondary education respectively) of mandatory and basic education provided by the government. By making the preschool level compulsory, the basic education scheme now comprises 12 years of education (Moreles, 2011). In light of this reform, preschool has become an important educational level for Nigerian children as it represents the first contact with a formal schooling environment.
Statement of the Problem
International research on starting school suggests that moving from pre-school to pre-school can be challenging, if not traumatic, for example children with special educational needs or children (Brostrom, 2002; Napier, 2002; Wagner, 2003)
When children move from pre-school to primary school they experience a change of identity from being a child in pre-school to a student in school, which means they are expected to behave in a certain way and understand the classroom rules, to learn the language of the classroom and to “read” the teacher. When children enter school they oven meet a larger physical environment and it can be difficult to find their way. In pre-school the child belongs to the eldest group of children, and suddenly he is the youngest and is forced to relate to older children. In school the social environment is much more complex; there is a greater number of children compared with the number of children in pre-school, and with that there will be much more competition. In school there are fewer adults, which means less individual attention and interaction with adults than previously. In school children have less autonomy and they are oven forced to discipline their own body movement. (Docke & Perry, 2007; Fabian, 2007; Merry, 2007).
During the first weeks in school these children seem to change. They exhibit less positive attitudes, become less active, and express insecurity. Although these children seem to have obtained the necessary level of school readiness, they do not feel “suitable” for school. This spoil their sense of well-being and hinder their engagement as active learners in the new environment and this (temporary) loss of competences might pave the way for poor self-esteem. In such situation, it is very important to a child to feel comfortable and secure more. Therefore, the first point of outcome, which is a new teacher that children meet, should play a certain role to provide a smooth transition.
Objective of the Study
The broad objective of this study was to explore the role of teachers in smooth transition from Nursery to Primary level of Education of pupils in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The specific objectives were to:
- examine the transition practices teachers use
- examine the problems teachers face in providing smooth transition
- examine what can be done by teachers in order to improve the transition
Based on the broad objective of the study, a number of research questions were derived as follows:
- What are the transition practices teachers use
- what are the problems teachers face in preschoolers transition to primary school
- What do teachers think can be done in order to improve this transition
Significance of the study
This study contributes to the national and international literature on transitions by gathering empirical evidence with regard to the way in which teachers, head teachers and parents’ perceive this period of change in Nigerian context. Specifically, this research offers additional evidence that contributes to the knowledge and understanding of this transition process in light of Nigeria educational policies.
Finally, it provides evidence-based information which it is hoped will serve not only for the creation and implementation of new educational policies with regard to this transition, but also as a baseline which upon further research on transitions can be conducted. The findings from this study could potentially open a new research field in Nigeria focused on transitions across the educational system.
Operational Definition of Terms
Transition: this is the time when a pupil moves between schools or enter some form of pre-school provision (i.e., moving from home to nursery).