Doucet and Tudge
school is a cultural process, one that is experienced differently by different groups of people based on cultural characteristics, expectations, and goals. Specifically, there is a strong case for the importance of reframing current constructions of parents’ and teachers’ roles in fa- cilitating the transition to school to account for the ways in which culture informs and shapes developmental processes.
Children of color2 comprise close to half of the age 0–4 population in the United States today (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). One in five children in the United States is a child of immigrant parents (Rong & Preissle, 1998). According to He and Hobbs (1999), by the year 2030, minority children ages 5 and younger will outnumber their nonminority coun- terparts by a half million. He and Hobbs (1999) define minority as
The combined population of people who are Black, American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, Pacific Islander, or of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race [sic]). Equivalently, the Minority popu- lation comprises all people other than non-Hispanic Whites (who are termed the ‘non- Minority’ population when compared with the combined Minority population group). (p. 1)
Whether of newly arrived immigrants or of groups with multiple generations of resi- dence in the United States, these children represent the future of the changing racial/ethnic landscape in this countr , whereby groups once referred to as minorities are slowly becoming the majority (Doucet & Hamon, in press; He & Hobbs, 1999). These tremendous changes have brought tremendous challenges for the U.S. educational system, one of the most sig- nificant of which is the training of teachers (the majority of whom are White and middle class) to work effectively with children of color. Given the extraordinary numbers of very young children from diverse backgrounds entering formal schooling in the United States, it is clear that researchers and practitioners involved in teacher training and education must in- vest in the preparation of kindergarten teachers who are equipped to engage these young minds in ways that are meaningful and respectful of the diversity present in their classrooms (Broussard, 2000; Davidson Locke & Phelan, 1993; Fuller, 1992a, 1992b; Scrimsher & Tudge, 2003; Wiggins & Follo, 1999).
Ramey and Ramey (1994) described the transition to school as a developmental and transactional process—developmental in that children’s concerns evolve and change as they move from preparing for and then entering school to being adjusted to the school environment, and transactional in that schools, families, children, and communities all are involved in creating a supportive educational experience for children. Much of the lit- erature focusing on the transition to school examines the issue from one of these two per- spectives. Thus, a number of studies examine the links among specific types of preschool experiences and the children’s subsequent degree of success after they enter school (Field, 1991; Gullo & Burton, 1992, 1993; Haskins, 1989; Howes, 1988, 1990; National Insti- tute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD] Early Child Care Research Network, 2000). Much of the work on the quality of child care and the impact of Head Start and other similar programs falls into this category (Barnett, 1995; Lee, Brooks- Gunn, & Schnur, 1988; Lee, Brooks-Gunn, Schnur, & Liaw, 1991; Magnuson, Meyers, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2004; Ramey et al., 1999; Ramey, Lanzi, Phillips, & Ramey, 1998; Takanishi & DeLeon, 1994). An extensive portion of the literature deals more with home–school links, withthe most attention paid to these links after the child has gone to school (Epstein, 1986; Gutman & McLoyd, 2000; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1995, 1997; Ramey et al., 1998).