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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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FINE Newsletter, Volume VII, Issue 3
Issue Topic: Blended Professional Learning: Preparing and Supporting Educators to Engage Families

Voices From the Field

How can educators be better prepared to support children and families during the transition to school? One way is by having them explore the subject during their preservice and graduate experiences. To support faculty in this effort, Harvard Family Research Project has written and published the case Bridging Worlds: Family Engagement in the Transition to Kindergarten.

The case centers on Maya, a bright and energetic 5-year-old kindergartner who is hesitant to go to school in the morning and is having difficulty with homework at night. Nicole, Maya’s mother, is losing confidence in her own ability to help her daughter during this pivotal time. On the advice of Maya’s former preschool teacher, Nicole is poised to speak directly with Maya’s kindergarten teacher about her concerns for her daughter. Unfortunately, the elementary school has seemingly done little to make this a warm and welcoming conversation.

HFRP invited faculty members to reflect on their experiences facilitating the Bridging Worlds case with both undergraduate and graduate education and school counseling students. 

Faculty Reflections

photo of Pérsida Himmele Pérsida Himmele,  Millersville University photo of Marcia Nell Marcia Nell, Millersville University
By coupling the Bridging Worlds case with a Reader’s Theater, we helped students examine the complexities involved in sharing responsibility for student learning during the transition to school.

 photo of Jamilah Jor'dan Jamilah Jor'dan, Chicago State University
Presenting the Bridging Worlds case with a Fishbowl activity helped educators come to understand the need to support relationships between families and schools during the transition period.

 photo of Jon Lasser Jon Lasser, Texas State University
Communication is key during the transition to school, and a mock team meeting based on the perspectives presented in the Bridging Worlds case helped school psychologists gain confidence talking with representatives from different learning settings.

photo of Jesus Paz-Albo Jesús Paz-Albo, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
One way to help educators better understand how parents and teachers think and feel during the transition to school is by pairing the Bridging Worlds case with an Empathy Map.

photo of Anita Ede Anita Ede, Northeastern State University
Through a case discussion, the Bridging Worlds case became a catalyst for robust dialogue discussion about the assumptions teachers make during the transition to kindergarten and their potential consequences for children and families.

This resource is part of the August
FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project