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Starting School Socially and Behaviorally Ready: The Impacts of Malleable Home-Based Relationships and Community Setting

Research Team


Principal Investigator: Rachel Schumacher

Co-Principal Investigators: Susan Sheridan

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Society for the Study of School Psychology

Award Date: Jun 1, 2019

End Date: Nov 30, 2020


Children growing up in disadvantage often enter school without the requisite social, emotional and behavioral skills to be successful. A child's early school experiences are predictive of their long-term educational trajectory, and children starting off behind are unlikely to catch up to more successful students. Because this may ultimately contribute to long-term deleterious outcomes and widening gaps in academic and social success, it is critical that all students start school socially and behaviorally ready. 

This study examines the trajectories and impact of malleable home-based relationships from preschool through elementary school for children at risk. Specifically, this project aims to identify whether the quality of the parent-child relationship and home-school connection are associated with children's social-emotional skills across the transition from preschool to first grade, and to determine whether community setting (i.e., urban, rural) moderates these associations.

The sample is comprised of 334 children and their parents and teachers participating in a federally funded longitudinal study of early education practices. Children were followed from preschool through first grade, and parents and teachers provided ratings of the parent-child relationship, home-school connection and children's social-emotional skills at each time point.

Identifying the association between malleable home-based relationships and children's school readiness and social-emotional adjustment during the transition to school may help identify better ways to support schools and families during the transition to elementary school.

The long-term goal of this project is to close the achievement gap for young children at risk due to disadvantaged socioeconomic conditions by ensuring positive transitions to elementary school.

Academic Intervention & Learning, Early Childhood Education and Development, Social, Emotional and Behavioral Well-being