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Starting School Study

Starting School StudyWe’d like to thank the children, parents and teachers who participated in the Starting School Study and tell you about some of the things we learned from the study.

The Children and their Families

We were fortunate to have the help of nearly 100 families from different infant schools and nursery schools in Cardiff, Barry and Newport.  The sample of families who participated was very representative of the general population in the UK, and so we are confident that our study has provided an accurate snapshot of young children’s lives.


Children’s Strengths and Difficulties

We asked teachers and parents to complete a brief questionnaire and then interviewed parents in more depth.  Even in these challenging early years of school, the children’s social skills outweighed their difficulties.  Virtually all the children were reported by their teachers to be kind and helpful to other people.  Although many people think young children are naturally aggressive, and find it difficult to share, our findings showed that sharing and helping were far more common than outbursts of anger or fighting. 

However, some children did seem to have problems settling into school, as reported by their teachers and their parents.  These problems included worrying about themselves and other people, or feeling downhearted, as well as problems in sitting still or concentrating on classroom activities, and difficulties in playing with other children.  There was good agreement between teachers and parents in reporting problems, which means that there is an excellent basis for effective home-school partnerships that meet children’s needs.

Presentations of Our Findings

We have presented our findings from the Starting School Study to national and international conferences, in the UK and in Boston, USA. Findings from the Starting School Study have been included in Kathryn Hudson’s Ph.D. thesis at Cardiff University and published in an educational journal:

Hay, D.F., Hudson, K., & Liang, W. (2010).  Links between preschool children’s prosocial skills and aggressive conduct problems: The contribution of ADHD symptoms.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25, 493-501.