The Transition to Kindergarten: Impact of Transition Preparation on Socio-Behavioral Outcomes for Children with and without Disabilities

Leah K. Wildenger


The transition to kindergarten is regarded as a key early childhood developmental milestone with important implications for later school outcomes. This period presents many challenges to children with and without disabilities, their families, and teachers. Despite its importance, there are few empirical studies that examine kindergarten transition. In particular, no prior research has investigated the impact of transition practices on kindergarten outcomes for both populations of children with and without disabilities. Therefore, the overarching goal of the current study was to examine the relationship between kindergarten transition preparation and child socio-behavioral outcomes in kindergarten among both typically developing children (TD) and children with developmental delays and disabilities (DD). Data collection involved parent/caregiver, preschool teacher, and kindergarten teacher reports of child behavior and involvement in kindergarten transition practices. Results showed that the involvement in transition preparation activities of families and preschool teachers, but not kindergarten teachers, was higher for children with DD than TD children. Additionally, preschool teachers, but not kindergarten teachers or families, were found to have higher involvement for children with poorer socio- behavioral competencies. Hierarchical linear regression analyses demonstrated that the involvement of preschool teachers in kindergarten transition preparation activities did not predict unique variance in kindergarten outcomes for children with or without DD. Instead, preschool child behavioral variables (i.e., adaptive and problem behavior) significantly predicted kindergarten outcomes. Best practices in kindergarten transition programming for children with and without disabilities are discussed.