The transition from preschool to kindergarten can be a challenging time for children who may not be prepared for the adjustment to a new setting that includes more structure and increased expectations. Research suggests that children may be at greater risk for school failure and social adjustment problems when they experience an ineffective transition between preschool and kindergarten.
Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch and Beverly Sweeney, in connection with the National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning, are members of a team focused on providing information and research-based practices and products to educators, parents, and other community members to help them facilitate children’s successful transition to kindergarten. Transition practices may include taking preschoolers to visit their future kindergarten classroom as well as providing orientation sessions for children and their parents and providing children’s academic records to their kindergarten teacher.
“The research has been clear that quicker adjustment to kindergarten allows children to take better advantage of learning opportunities, so that by the end of the kindergarten year they are doing better academically than their peers who took more time to adjust,” Sweeney said.
The NCQTL transition team has held informational summits in three states since November 2011, and two more are planned for September 2012, one in South Dakota and one in Iowa.
“The research has been clear that quicker adjustment to kindergarten allows children to take better advantage of learning opportunities, so that by the end of the kindergarten year they are doing better academically than their peers who took more time to adjust,”
“Our main purpose is to bring together a diverse gathering of stakeholders who have roles in early childhood education to inform them of the importance of children’s transitions to kindergarten, give them a framework for planning effective transitions, and get them talking to one another about how they can collaborate,” Sweeney said.
The summits have been conducted in conjunction with the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE). The NCQTL transition team is also collaborating with NCPFCE to disseminate summaries of the research on preschool to kindergarten transitions and recommend practices that educators can use to promote successful transitions.
Another project with NCPFCE is a transition calendar designed to provide educators and parents with activities that help prepare children for the upcoming move to kindergarten, activities such as writing their name, identifying shapes, taking turns, carrying lunch trays, and standing in line. “These kinds of activities help prepare children academically and socially for the kindergarten experience,” Sweeney said.
Summit attendees have included administrators and teachers from early childhood centers and elementary schools, family outreach workers, representatives from state departments of education, and even some parents and other community members.
The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning was created in 2010 by the U.S. Office of Head Start. A coalition of universities with expertise in the area of teaching and learning works with Head Start training and technical-assistance providers, consultants and grantees. The center is an integral component to ensuring that the federal investment in Head Start is helping foster children’s learning and readiness for school.
by Lynn Bell