Theorising Transition: Shifts and Tensions

  • Sue Dockett
  • Anne Petriwskyj
  • Bob Perry
Part of the International perspectives on early childhood education and development book series (CHILD, volume 9)


This chapter positions transition to school as a key element of young children’s engagement with education. In introducing the content of the following chapters, we explore shifts in approaches to theorising transition and some of the tensions associated with changing conceptualisations of transition to school. This chapter canvasses the wide variety of theoretical frameworks represented in researching about transition and considers their place within research, policy and practice.


Critical Reflection Critical Theory Effective Transition Transition Research Sociocultural Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Albon, D. (2011). Postmodern and post-structuralist perspectives on early childhood education. In L. Miller & L. Pound (Eds.), Theories and approaches to learning in the early years (pp. 38–52). Los Angeles/London: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Ames, L. B. (1986). Ready or not. American Educator: The Professional Journal of the American Federation of Teachers, 10(2), 30–33. 48.Google Scholar
  3. Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: The new mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P. (1992). The logic of practice (trans: Nice, R.). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1997). The forms of capital. In A. H. Halsey, H. Lauder, P. Brown, & A. S. Wells (Eds.), Education, culture, economy and society (pp. 46–58). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments in nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 1: Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., pp. 793–828). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Broström, S., & Wagner, J. T. (Eds.). (2003). Early childhood education in five Nordic countries: Perspectives on the transition from preschool to school. Århus: Systime Academic.Google Scholar
  9. Corsaro, W. A., Molinari, L., & Rosier, K. B. (2002). Zena and Carlotta: Transition narratives and early education in the United States and Italy. Human Development, 45(5), 323–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davies, H., Nutley, S., & Walter, I. (2008). Why ‘knowledge transfer’ is misconceived for applied social research. Journal of Health Services, Research and Policy, 13(3), 188–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2004). What makes a successful transition to school? Views of Australian parents and teachers. International Journal of Early Years Education, 12(3), 217–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2007). Transitions to school: Perceptions, expectations, experiences. Sydney: University of NSW Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2013, in press). Trends and tensions: Australian and international research about starting school. International Journal of Early Years Education.Google Scholar
  14. Dunlop, A.-W., & Fabian, H. (2007). Informing transitions in the early years: Research, policy and practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Elder, G. H., Jr. (1974). Children of the great depression. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Elder, G. H., Jr. (1996). Human lives in changing societies: Life course and developmental insights. In R. B. Cairns, G. H. Elder Jr., & E. J. Costello (Eds.), Developmental science (pp. 31–62). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Fabian, H. (2007). Informing transitions. In A.-W. Dunlop & H. Fabian (Eds.), Informing transitions in the early years (pp. 3–17). Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Fabian, H., & Dunlop, A.-W. (2007). Outcomes of good practice in transition processes for children entering primary school. Working Paper 42. Bernard van Leer Foundation: The Hague.Google Scholar
  19. Fegan, M., & Bowes, J. (2009). Isolation in rural, remote and urban communities. In J. Bowes & R. Grace (Eds.), Children, families and communities: Contexts and consequences (3rd ed., pp. 129–147). Melbourne: Oxford.Google Scholar
  20. Fthenakis, W. E. (1998). Family transitions and quality in early childhood education. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 6(1), 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Giroux, H. A. (2005). Border crossings (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Graue, M. E., Kroeger, J., & Brown, C. (2003). The gift of time: Enactments of developmental thought in early childhood practice. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 5(1). Accessed 14 Dec 2012.
  23. Griebel, W., & Niesel, R. (2009). A developmental psychology perspective in Germany: Co-construction of transitions between family and education systems by the child, parents and pedagogues. Early Years, 29(1), 59–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Habermas, J. (1972). Knowledge and human interests (2nd ed.), (trans: Shapiro J. J.). London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  25. Hirst, M., Jervis, N., Visagie, K., Sojo, V., & Cavanagh, S. (2011). Transition to primary school: A review of the literature. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  26. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. MacNaughton, G. (2005). Doing Foucault in early childhood studies. Milton Park: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Aurora, A. (2012). TIMSS 2011 International results in mathematics. Chestnut Hill: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College. Accessed 13 Jan 2013.
  29. Munford, R., & Sanders, J. (Eds.). (2003). Making a difference in families: Research that creates change. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  30. Nutley, S., Walter, I., & Davies, H. (2007). Using evidence: How research can inform public services. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ohi, S. (2008). The teacher’s role in the research-praxis nexus. Australian Journal of Education, 52(1), 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2001). Starting strong: Early childhood education and care. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  33. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2006). Starting strong II: Early childhood education and care. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  34. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2010). PISA 2009 Results: Learning trends: Changes in student performance since 2000 (Vol. V). PISA. OECD Publishing. Accessed 8 Dec 2012.
  35. Page, J. M. (2000). Reframing the early childhood curriculum: Educational imperatives for the future. London: Routledge/Falmer.Google Scholar
  36. Perry, B., & Dockett, S. (2011). ‘How ‘bout we have a celebration?’ Advice from children on starting school. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 19(3), 375–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Peters, S. (2010). Literature review: Transition from early childhood education to school. Ministry of Education, New Zealand. Accessed 24 July 2012.
  38. Petriwskyj, A., Thorpe, K., & Tayler, C. (2005). Trends in construction of transition to school in three western regions, 1990–2004. International Journal of Early Years Education, 13(1), 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pianta, R. C. (2010). Going to school in the United States: The shifting ecology of transition. In S. L. Kagan & K. Tarrant (Eds.), Transitions for young children (pp. 33–44). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  40. Ramey, C. T., & Ramey, S. L. (1999). Beginning school for children at risk. In R. C. Pianta & M. J. Cox (Eds.), The transition to Kindergarten (pp. 217–251). Baltimore: Paul Brookes.Google Scholar
  41. Rickinson, M., Sebba, J., & Edwards, A. (2011). Improving research through user engagement. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2000). An ecological perspective on children‘s transition to kindergarten: A theoretical framework to guide empirical research. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(5), 491–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Saleeby, D. (Ed.). (1997). Common purpose: Strengthening families and neighbourhoods to rebuild America. New York: Anchor.Google Scholar
  45. Sameroff, A. J. (Ed.). (2009). The transactional model of development: How children and contexts shape each other. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  46. Scott-Little, C., Kagan, S., & Frelow, V. (2006). Conceptualisation of readiness and the content of early learning standards: The intersection of policy and research? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 153–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smart, D., Sanson, A., Baxter, B., Edwards, B., & Hayes, A. (2008). Home-to-school transitions for financially disadvantaged children: Summary report. Sydney: The Smith Family and Australian Institute of Family Studies. Accessed 13 Mar 2010.
  48. Tseng, V. (2012). The uses of research in policy and practice. Social Policy Report, 26(2), 1–16.Google Scholar
  49. Turner, V. W. (1969). The ritual process: Structure and anti-structure. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  50. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (2012). School readiness: A conceptual framework. Accessed 23 Jan 2013.
  51. van Gennep, A. (1960). The rites of passage. (trans: Minika, B. V. & G. L. Caffee). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  52. Vogler, P., Crivello, G., & Woodhead, M. (2008). Early childhood transitions research: A review of concepts, theory and practice. The Hague: Bernard van Leer Foundation.Google Scholar
  53. Vrinioti, K., Einarsdóttir, J., & Broström, S. (2010). Transitions from preschool to primary school (pp. 16–20). In H. Müller (Ed.) Transition from pre-school to school: Emphasising literacy. Comments and reflection by researchers from eight European countries. Cologne: EU-Agency, Regional Government of Cologne/Germany.Google Scholar
  54. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Wertsch, J. V. (1991). Voices of the mind: A sociocultural approach to mediated action. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  56. Yeboah, D. A. (2002). Enhancing transition from early childhood phase to primary education: Evidence from the research literature. Early Years, 11(1), 51–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationCharles Sturt UniversityAlbury WodongaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Early ChildhoodQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations