Seabra-Santos, M., Major, S., Patras, J., Pereira, M., Pimentel, M., Baptista, E., Cruz, F., Santos, M., Homem, T., Azevedo, A.F., & Gaspar, M.F. (2021). Transition to Primary School of Children in Economic Disadvantage: Does a Preschool Teacher Training Program Make a Difference? Early Childhood Educ J (online 30 July 2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-021-01240-y
Transition to school may be experienced as a critical event for both children and their families. Within an ecological framework of transition, the scope of the concept of school readiness in recent years has decentered from the child to the environment, including the readiness of (pre)school education to develop core skills in children. This study aims to understand the extent to which preschool teachers’ completion of training in the Incredible Years®-Teacher Classroom Management program (IY-TCM) during children’s last preschool year has an impact when children transition to primary school, and how this contributes to reducing differences between children with and without economic disadvantage. Forty-four teachers from classes with a high percentage of students in economic disadvantage completed questionnaires about 192 five/six-year-old children. Results from cross-sectional analyses showed that children whose preschool teachers attended the IY-TCM program, when compared to children whose teachers did not, were significantly higher in social skills, adaptation to school and school achievement at the end of the first term, and had parents more involved in education but with a lower bonding with the teachers (medium to large effect sizes). Although not statistically significant (p = .08, Hedge’s g = .29), results of longitudinal analyses are trending in the expected direction, suggesting that the IY- TCM could help to reduce socio-economic disparity. Results are discussed bearing in mind the importance of a preschool education that addresses the development of self-regulation and social skills in children, and the value of both initial and continuous training for preschool teachers.