Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Susan M. Sheridan

Date of this Version


Document Type



Schumacher, Rachel E. (2021). Starting school socially and behaviorally ready: The impacts of malleable home- and school-based relationships and community setting (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education (School Psychology), Under the Supervision of Professor Susan M. Sheridan. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2021

Copyright 2021 Rachel E. Schumacher


Children growing up in disadvantage often enter school without the requisite social, emotional, and behavioral skills to be successful. Considering the importance of social-emotional skills for school and later life success, it is critical to understand factors associated with social-emotional development across the transition to elementary school. The current study will utilize an ecological approach to identify the influence of malleable home- (i.e., parent-child relationship [microsystem]) and school-based (i.e., home-school connection [mesosystem]) contextual factors over time (chronosystem) on children’s school readiness and social-emotional adjustment to early elementary school, and uncover the role of community setting (exosystem) in understanding children’s school readiness trajectories. The sample is comprised of 250 children and their parents and teachers participating in a federally funded longitudinal study of early education practices. Children were followed from preschool through first grade, and parents and teachers provided ratings of the parent-child relationship, home-school connection, and children’s social-emotional skills at each time point. Geographic context did not appear to directly influence children’s social-emotional skill trajectories; however geographic context did influence parent-child relationship quality (favoring urban families) and the home-school connection (also favoring urban families), both of which had significant effects on children’s social-emotional functioning during the transition from preschool to first grade. Understanding the association between malleable home- and school-based relationships and children’s school readiness and social-emotional adjustment during the transition to school may help identify better ways to support schools and families during the transition to elementary school, particularly for children living in rural communities, and ultimately help close the achievement gap for children who are disadvantaged.

Advisor: Susan M. Sheridan