“Stars” Transition Program

Berlin, L. J., Dunning, R. D., Dodge, K. A., (2010). Enhancing the transition to kindergarten: A randomized trial to test the efficacy of the “Stars” summer kindergarten orientation program.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 247-254.

My area of interest for research and innovation is in the area of the transition period that children experience from home to kindergarten or from preschool to kindergarten.  Since the start of my studies this summer, I have read many articles in this area that have focused on the importance of successful transitions into kindergarten.  I have learned many practical ideas for implementation that would help support what research deems as the best practices in the area.  In my mind, I have started to apply what I have learned to the context of my own school and community.  I started asking myself, given my school and community demographics, strengths, and needs, what would a successful program look like for the students and families we serve?

I came across a research study conducted that researched a kindergarten transition program that mirrored the type of program that I can see being funded and implemented in my own school and community.  Berlin, Dunning & Dodge (2010), developed a transition program called “Stars” that was designed to help students with primarily their social transition into kindergarten.  The program focused on pre-academic skills such as pre-literacy and pre-numeracy, but mostly the focus was on school routines, the social aspects of kindergarten transition, and parent involvement (Berlin et al., 2010).  The program was held for four weeks in the summer prior to kindergarten.

Berlin et al., (2010) found that participation in the “Stars” program eased children’s’ social transitions as judged by kindergarten teachers.  When the children had the same teacher for kindergarten as they did in the “Stars” program, the significance was even higher (Berlin et al., 2010).  Although  there was not a significant effect in the area of academics, the researchers did remind readers that the focus was not on the academic piece, bur more on the social aspect of kindergarten transition.    The study also found that when compared to peers that did not participate in the “Stars” program, children that did participate in the program had an overall better ability to adapt to kindergarten expectations and routines (Berlin et al., 2010).  In further analysis of the results, the researchers in this study also noticed that the positive effects on the “Stars” program were more pronounced for girls compared to boys.  They attributed this effect to the possibility of greater male vulnerability to social stressors (e.g. Zaslow & Haynes, 1996) and teachers’ differential relationships with preschool age girls and boys and/or unmeasured processes (Berlin et al, 2010).   They also noted that the same gender effect occurred in previous studies, such as the Perry Preschool Project, Abecedarian, and Early Training Project (Anderson, 2008).  Although it is interesting to note that the same findings were not true with two recent and well know studies in early childhood transition.  These studies were the large-scale evaluation of the Early Head Start Program and the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (Berlin et al., 2010).

The methods of study and the findings of this study have helped me to think about my plan for innovation in my local community in the area of kindergarten transition.  The study authors noted in their conclusion that they felt that they could see benefit by having the study repeated but on a larger scale (Berlin et al., 2010).  The researchers felt that perhaps the smaller sample size limited their ability to use certain data gathering materials as well as limited the exploration of a wider range of moderated program effects.  Berlin et al, (2010) also recommended the use of more qualitative measures such as parent, teacher, and student interviews and questionnaires.

I can see the value in using these suggestions in my own research.  I believe that of given district support, I can implement an innovative, research backed program in many of our 59 elementary schools.  Although I am not sure what size samples are deemed acceptable for a larger sample size, I feel that I may have the opportunity to use a larger sample size in the South West area of my district.   Based on this study, I also think that it would be interesting to add a deeper qualitative research approach to capture the dynamics of the transition in regards to parent, teacher, and student feelings about their experiences.


Anderson, M. A. (2008). Multiple inference and gender differences in the effects of early intervention:  A reevaluation of the abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects.  Journal of the American Statistical Association, 103, 1481-1495.

Berlin, L. J., Dunning, R. D., Dodge, K. A., (2010). Enhancing the transition to kindergarten: A randomized trial to test the efficacy of the “Stars” summer kindergarten orientation program.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 247-254.

Zaslow, M.S., & Haynes, C.D. (1986). Sex differences in children’s responses to psychological stress: Toward a cross-context analysis.  In M. Lamb, & B. Rogoff (Eds), Advances in developmental psychology (pp. 2890337). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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Kathleen Brotherton

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