Teacher Outreach to Families Across the Transition to School: An Examination of Teachers’ Practices and their Unique Contributions to Children’s Early Academic Outcomes

This descriptive study explored teachers’ outreach to families in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade, and its relations to children’s early growth in language, literacy, and mathematics. Teachers (n = 62) completed surveys reporting the frequency of outreach practices to families, and children’s (n = 210) early academic skills were assessed at the beginning and end of the school year. In addition, parents described their education, while teachers noted their education, experience, and number of minutes they devoted to various types of classroom instruction. Results revealed that the frequency of teacher outreach varied both across practices and across teachers. Positive associations emerged between teachers’ provision of workshops and children’s vocabulary learning, as well as between teachers’ invitations to volunteer in the classroom and children’s mathematics development, even after controlling for teacher, family, and child factors. In contrast, the frequency of teachers’ phone calls to families was inversely related to children’s vocabulary and mathematics learning. Results provide new information about the nature of teacher outreach during the school transition period and its distinct, selective contributions to important early skills.