All Children in
the U.S. should be provided the opportunity to:
Participate in a high quality
kindergarten program with a developmentally appropriate environment,
including a comprehensive curriculum that addresses all domains important for
high quality kindergarten programs supports and fosters children’s development
and learning in all domains— health and physical, perceptional and motor
development, social and emotional development, approaches to learning, language
and communication development, and cognitive development.
environment For kindergarten students, a developmentally
appropriate environment is one in which children have the opportunity to
learn through play, exploring the environment, and interacting with their
peers. It takes into consideration 1) child development and learning, 2)
individually appropriateness, 3) culturally appropriateness[i].
Comprehensive curriculumA comprehensive
curriculum meets state content standards, but also takes into account
children’s developmental needs, the needs and interest of the children in the
class, and individual children’s needs. It also incorporates skills and
concepts across content areas and builds on skills obtained before preschool,
while also purposefully preparing kindergarteners to build on and expand
their knowledge in first grade and beyond. [ii]
Young children’s development covers five
Health and physical, perceptional and motor
Social and emotional development
Approaches to learning
Language and communication development
Why does high quality matter?
Access to full-day kindergarten is important but just extending how long
children are in school does not necessarily mean the quality of teaching
children experience changes.[iv] To achieve strong outcomes in early
childhood programs, quality is key. Studies of Project STAR found attendance
higher-quality kindergarten classrooms had long term effects, such as higher
earnings and college attendance rates.[v]
Research has suggested that
kindergarten teachers who are educated on early childhood specific pedagogy
and theory produce the best results.[vi] Teachers trained in developmentally
appropriate practice can effectively support a high quality classroom.
What does a high quality
kindergarten look like?
Step into a high quality kindergarten classroom and you will see
children excited about learning – children who are engaged and learning
through their environment. You will
not see children lined up in rows at desks.
What you will see is a lot of activity – children participating in
activity centers, literacy builders through the classroom, children’s art,
math manipulatives, students engaging with one another, and a host of
other resources and activities. All this is under the supervision of an
intentional teacher, who has a pulse on the needs of each child and who
intentionally creates a learning environment that is child-centered.
The New Jersey Department of Education has a 3-part video series that
provides a look at what a high quality kindergarten looks like.[vii]
How can high quality be
Just instituting extended hours in and of itself will not lead to the
benefits full-day kindergarten offers – teachers must be trained in and be
able to use methods that evoke the most developmental benefits and “school
district administrators can play important leadership roles in building
comprehensive professional development systems that support PreK-3rd teachers
and their efforts to create effective learning environments.” [viii]
States can promote the inclusion of early childhood education theory
and practices by stipulating that those teaching grades K-3 receive training
in early childhood development during their credential program.
Chetty, R.C., Friedman, J.N., Hilger, N., Saez, E., Schanzenbach,
D.W., and Yagan, D. (2011). Does your kindergarten classroom affect your
earnings? Evidence from Project STAR. The
Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, 126(4), 1593-1660.
Hall-Kenyon, K.M., Bingham, G.E. & Korth, B.B. (2009). How do
linguistically diverse students fare in full- and half-day kindergarten?
Examining academic achievement, instructional quality, and attendance. Early Education and Development, 20(1),
Kauerz, K. (2010). PreK-3rd:
Putting full-day kindergarten in the middle. New York, NY: Foundation for
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
(n.d.). DAP with Kindergarteners.
Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/dap/kindergarteners
NAEYC. (1996). Top 10 signs of
a good kindergarten classroom.
Washington, DC: NAEYC. Retrieved from http://oldweb.naeyc.org/ece/1996/12.pdf
New Jersey Department of Education. (2011). New Jersey kindergarten implementation guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.nj.gov/education/ece/guide/KindergartenGuidelines.pdf
New Jersey Department of Education. (n.d.) High-quality kindergarten today.
Retrieved from http://www.nj.gov/education/ece/k/hqktoday/
Gullo, D.F. (ed.). (2006). K today: Teaching and learning in the
kindergarten year. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education
of Young Children. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/Play/Ktodayplay.pdf
National Association for the Education of Young Children. Developmentally appropriate practice. Accessed 02/27/13 http://www.naeyc.org/DAP
Adapted from the New Jersey Kindergarten Guidelines: “Kindergarten Guidelines
for Comprehensive, Standards-Based Curriculum
[iii] Early learning and development standards.
[iv] Hall-Kenyon, et.al., 2011
Chetty, R.C., Friedman, J.N., Hilger, N., Saez, E., Schanzenbach, D.W., and
Yagan, D. (2011). Does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings?
Evidence from Project STAR. The Quarterly
Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, 126(4), 1593-1660.
To access these videos, go to http://www.nj.gov/education/ece/k/hqktoday/
Childress, Doyle & Thomas, 2009; Elmore, 2002