Date of Award

Summer 6-1981

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Roberta Altman


One of the aims of this study is to discover how a pre-school child's personal relationship with her teacher is related to her ability to adjust to school and to learn in the classroom. Theoretical as well as observational material has been used in an attempt to shed light on the nature of teacher, child and parent interaction in the first days of a child's school experience. From the field of education, the developmental ­interaction approach has been examined as the model for teaching and educational background. Psychological theories include the work of Margaret Mahler on the separation-individuation process which explores the child's psychological development from birth to the pre-school years and certain ideas from psychoanalytic literature on the nature of transi­tional objects and object relations as expressed by D. W. Winnicott. The psychological ideas are related to the important emotional issues in a child's life as she enters pre-school and the implications these ideas hold for a teacher's course of action in developing relationships with the children and parents in general and during the first two weeks of school separation in particular.

The observational material was analyzed to discern any consistent styles of separation that emerged between parents and children. Further, the psychological ideas mentioned above were integrated with the observational findings to enhance understanding of the various styles of separation that were observed and how a teacher could most effectively respond to each one in helping a child adjust to school.