In recent years, a growing body of literature has pointed to the importance of children’s experiences of pre-school and Grade 1 as foundational for success during the subsequent school years. However, most of this research has been carried out in industrialised countries and has paid little attention to developing countries. This paper therefore seeks to contribute to this area by paying attention to the Latin-American context, where repetition and drop-out rates tend to be high, and taking as a case study an Andean country characterised by cultural diversity. Young Lives in Peru has conducted qualitative research on a subsample of four communities throughout the country, which represent different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. This paper describes findings in relation to data generated on the preparedness of schools and teachers for facilitating transition to first grade; parents’ perspectives on early schooling; how much information they have on the transition; and the ways in which children experience this transition. In this way, the research shows how childhood is represented and experienced during early childhood transitions and across different domains (home, school, community). A mixed method approach was used, combining interviews with parents, teachers and children; participatory techniques with children; home and community observations; and classroom observation at pre-school and primary levels.