Children's perspectives on their first year of school: introducing a new pictorial measure of school stress

Elizabeth Murray, Linda J. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper describes the development, administration, and scoring of the Pictorial Measure of School Stress (PMSS). This instrument was designed to describe individual differences in children's feelings about everyday school situations and their coping strategies for dealing with these. The PMSS uses a semi-structured interview to present specific school scenarios, including in-class routines, out-of-class events, and situations involving peers. For each scenario, children are asked how the child in the picture feels and why, whether they would tell the teacher about their feelings, and what might happen next. Responses were initially categorised as positive or negative. Interpretive methods were used to identify underlying themes. Positive responses to school were linked to children's enjoyment of learning, warm relationships with peers and the teacher, and understanding and meeting the expectations of school. Negative responses were associated with a dislike of school activities, peer rejection, separation anxiety, and conflicted relationships with the teacher.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • school transition
  • school adjustment
  • stress
  • pictorial measurement
  • child interview


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