Knowledge, perceptions and practices of kindergarten and first grade primary school teachers for the relationship between emergent/first and conventional/school literacy
The subject of this PhD thesis is "Knowledge, perceptions and practices of kindergarten and first grade primary school teachers for the relationship between emergent/first and conventional/school literacy". The purpose of this research study is the investigation of the relationship between emergent/first and conventional/school literacy in the area where they first appear, that is, in kindergarten and the first grade of primary school. In particular, the language curricula of kindergarten and first grade of primary school are studied, and the perceptions of kindergarten and first grade teachers are explored on the issue of the existence of a connection between the two levels, kindergarten and primary school, in terms of enhancing literacy and their practices. In this PhD thesis we were concerned with the answer to the following research questions: a) are kindergarten teachers familiar with the basic principles and methodology proposed in the Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework for Kindergarten (DEPPS) and the Kindergarten Teacher's Guide regarding literacy and what are their perceptions of them? b) Are the teachers of the first grade of primary school aware of the basic principles and the methodology delineated in the Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework for Compulsory Education (DEPPS) and in the Teacher's Book, in terms of language and what are their perceptions of them? c) Are the kindergarten teachers aware of the language teaching program in the primary school and accordingly, do the primary school teachers know the literacy practices that take place in the kindergarten? What perceptions do they have about them? d) What are the perceptions of kindergarten teachers and primary school teachers about the possible integration of the curricula of kindergarten and of the first grade of primary school, regarding the language module? e) What are the practices adopted by kindergarten teachers and primary school teachers in their literacy classes (which literacy pedagogy do they seem to support)? f) To what extent are kindergarten teachers and primary school teachers influenced by parents' expectations and concerns regarding their children's literacy and what practices do they adopt to cooperate with them? g) What are the perceptions and practices of the kindergarten teachers and the first grade teachers of the primary school for the cooperation between them, regarding the teaching of language? The research data were collected: a) by providing a questionnaire to a final sample of 326 kindergarten teachers and 306 teachers who teach the year of the process in the first grade of primary schools in the prefectures of Achaia and Ilia (Region of Western Greece), and b) by conducting semi-structured interviews with 32 kindergarten teachers and primary school teachers chosen among those who completed the questionnaire. Our research findings revealed partial knowledge of the curricula by kindergarten teachers and school teachers, an ignorance of the principles and methodology of the level that follows or precedes their own, respectively, a "confusion" of their perceptions and teaching practices, divergence between theoretical principles and teaching practices at every level, discontinuity of the literacy enhancement program from kindergarten to primary school, lack of effective cooperation between them, lack of substantial interest from parents regarding literacy, hesitation and critical disposition of teachers concerning the possible unification of the two curricula. The educators who participated in the research proposed joint training of kindergarten teachers and first grade teachers by establishing a framework for effective cooperation between them and planning joint actions, cooperation with parents to ensure the continuation of the literacy program from home to kindergarten and from kindergarten to primary school, as well as partial integration of the curricula of kindergarten and of the first grades of primary school, only in terms of some axes and goals. The work concludes with the use of the findings from which arises the proposal to create the above framework to function as a bridge between the kindergarten and the first grade of primary school with obvious positive results for young students, teachers and the school community at large.