Case study provided by: Sanja Tatalović Vorkapić, Associate Professor, Faculty of Teacher Education, Educational Sciences Department
“Children’s well-being in transition periods: the empirical validation of ecological-dynamic model”, is a three-year scientific UNIRi project financed by the University of Rijeka. Transition is defined as an intense process of change and movement from one identity to another, determined by the various factors described in the contemporary ecological-dynamic transition model (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta, 2000). Within transition, the various contexts in which and through which the child passes, and their interrelations over time, are crucial. So, the purpose of this project is to empirically test this model and to analyse significant correlates of transition from family to kindergarten, as well as of transition from kindergarten to primary school. This research will provide clear guidelines for ensuring the highest levels of children’s well-being during transition for children, parents, teachers and associates.
On the representative samples of early aged children (transition from family to kindergarten) and preschool children (transition from kindergarten to primary school), the following variables will be explored:
- intrapersonal factors of children (temperament, socio-emotional well-being, strength and difficulties, resilience), parents/caregivers (personality, sensitivity, subjective well-being, resilience) and teachers (personality, subjective well-being, resilience);
- and the interpersonal factors of child-parents-teachers-environment (attachment, adaptation, relationship with parents/teachers, teaching strategies, relationship between family-kindergarten-school-local community-environment, social values).
The quantitative methodology will be applied with reliable measures that will objectively present the perspective of children, parents, teachers and associates. This analysis will contribute to realization of short-term project goals by validating the theoretical model and postulating the practical guidelines for achieving optimal transition in the early and preschool period, as well as to realization of long-term goals by preventing the mental health problems among children with the aim of enhancing their lifelong psychological well-being. This scientific analysis, the first in Croatia, will enable us to define significant correlates of the transition from family to kindergarten, and from kindergarten to primary school. This will create scientific and practical implications for ensuring the highest level of well-being and support for children, parents and educators / teachers during the transition period. Two significant implications for practice and professional development: based on the significant predictors identified, it is expected to be able to provide guidance to support parents and teachers during the adjustment of children in kindergarten / school. It will also be possible to create the structure of a lifelong learning program for the purpose of acquiring the necessary competences of educators, teachers and professional assistants in supporting children in transition. In this regard, the project will organize formal (professional meeting in cooperation with the Agency for Education) and informal (interactive lectures in the framework of events such as the River of Psychology, i.e. Rijeka Psihologije) forms of cooperation with educators, teachers and professional associates. From the University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education, two professors are participating: Associate Professor, PhD. Dunja Anđić and Vesna Katić, higher lecturer. From the practice field, Ivana Pauletić, early childhood educator (Kindergarten „Matulji“, Matulji, Croatia) is working on this project. In addition, from Croatia, Doris Velan, (working at the University of Pula), doctoral student at the Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka is participating in this project.
International partners in this project are:
- Serbia: Associate Professor, PhD. Ivana Mihić (University of Novi Sad)
- Slovenia: Assistant Professor, PhD. Marcela Batistič Zorec (University of Ljubljana)
- Italy: PhD. Valeria Cavioni, psychotherapist (University of Milano)
SAD: Associate Professor, PhD. Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch (University of Virginia).