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The first two years of school: Teacher-child relationships and deflections in children's classroom adjustment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2009

Robert C. Pianta*
University of Virginia
Michael S. Steinberg
University of Virginia
Kristin B. Rollins
University of Virginia
Robert C. Pianta, 147 Ruffner Hall, 405 Emmet St., Charlottesville, VA 22903.


Teacher reports of children's competence and problem behaviors are an important source of information on psychopathology. The school context is also an agent of developmental change. This study examines teacherchild relationships and deflections in child adjustment over the school-entry to grade 2 period in 436 children. The Student-Teacher Relationship Scale (STRS) was related to two indices of deflections in predicted child adjustment: (a) residual scores obtained from regressing teacher reports from grade 1 on kindergarten teacher reports, and (b) false positive predictions of retention or referral for special education in the K-l period.

Children with whom kindergarten teachers reported a positive relationship were rated in spring of grade I as better adjusted than was predicted on the basis of identical ratings from the fall of the kindergarten year; the converse was also true. False-positive retention/referral predictions had more positive relationships with kindergarten teachers than did true positives. A second set of analyses examined second grade teacher ratings of child adjustment and child-teacher relationships in two groups of children with different child-teacher relationship histories in kindergarten. Children with warm, close, communicative relationships with kindergarten teachers were better adjusted and had more positive child-teacher relationships in second grade than those with angry, dependent child-teacher relationships in kindergarten. Results supported the view that children's relationships with teachers are an important component of adaptation in school, and that they can play a role in deflecting the course of development in the school context.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995

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