Cartmell, Katherine M. (2010) Learning to adapt to formal schooling: what are children’s experiences of their first year at school? In: BPS Psychology of Education Annual Conference, 12th-14th November 2010, Milton Keynes, UK. (Unpublished)

Evidence has indicated that the transition from informal to formal education can have various impacts, both positive and negative, on a child’s developing sense of self. Additionally, research has indicated that some children may find it difficult to make this transition in role, from child into ‘school child’. They must learn to adapt their own way of life so that they can become a part of the school community. Therefore, this paper will discuss the findings from a research project that ethnographically investigated the experiences related to starting formal schooling and their impact upon the developing child. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological model facilitates the perception of children as active agents, shaping their environment as they interact with others and not as passive recipients of external influences. Within a school setting each child's disposition and behavioural style shapes the way in which the classroom environment functions, just as that same environment influences the behaviour and development of each individual child. This research therefore documented the processes that children go through on their journey through their first year of formal schooling.


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