Family Stress and Preschool Adjustment

Slee, P. and Murray-Harvey, R. (1999). Unpublished article summary.

A significant part of a child's life is spent at school and parents and teachers are rightly interested in children's adjustment in such an environment. Poor adjustment to preschool is often an indicator of underlying problems, which if undetected or ignored may place the child 'at risk' for more serious problems later on. Broadly speaking, adjustment to school refers to the child's ability to cope with the cognitive, social/emotional and physical demands of the school environment. At the preschool level, adjustment is more strongly associated with the child's ability to cope socially with a later shift in emphasis towards cognitive functioning. While difficulty adjusting to preschool may be accounted for by a range of factors such as individual differences in the rate of development of social skills and competencies there are also a network of child and family factors that may impact on adjustment to preschool.

In the present study 111 randomly selected Australian families with a preschool child completed an interview which collected a range of data from the parent regarding aspects of family life. The teachers rated each child for adjustment to kindergarten. The results showed that two variables predicted preschooler's poor adjustment as assessed by teachers, namely