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#4 K-Power - Kindergarten Supports

All Children in the U.S. should be provided the opportunity to:

Receive supports as determined by their individual needs including planned transitions into kindergarten and from kindergarten to first grade.

Definitions

Individual needs

Children, especially young children, have their own individual needs (and strengths) across all domains – cognitive, language/literacy, social-emotional, physical, and approaches to learning.  They also come from different cultural, linguistic, and other contexts. To understand a child’s individual needs, a teacher must be aware of the contexts the child comes from, child him/herself (language, culture, etc.), the child’s family, and the child’s community.  

Planned transitions

Planned transitions ensure children receive stable and consistent learning environments.  For children, the classroom environment, standards they are held to, and the instructional practices they receive should be aligned as they move through different early childhood settings. Families are consulted and have relationships with educators to ensure smooth transitions.  Educators are able to work across together across settings (i.e., pre-k to kindergarten) and families to plan transitions for children.

 

How can teachers and schools provide supports to kindergarten children based on their individual needs?

Training is essential.  Teachers must be prepared to assess a child’s needs and use their judgment and knowledge to adjust or change their instruction to support the child.  Schools should provide an environment that supports teachers, such as professional development, and bring together parents, teachers, and others involved in children’s education environments to determine children’s needs and how to support them.

 

Why are transitions important time periods?

As children move from early learning experiences to kindergarten, the policies, curriculum, pedagogy, the role of parents, and what is expected of children are often disjointed.  Kindergarten serves as “the ‘pivot’ year, serving as the pedagogical bridge between PreK and the early elementary grades.”[i] The benefits of creating a smooth transitions across the early childhood years has been shown by research[ii] and practice in the field.[iii]  Research shows that planned transitions that bridge across the different developmental contexts children experience as they move between settings are essential to building upon early learning experiences for long-term improved child outcomes.[iv] 

 

How can policy support planned transitions?

Policy is key in creating a unified system that supports planned transitions such as aligning standards, fostering closer communication between early childhood settings and kindergarten, transition planning in teams at schools, and engaging parents in the transition process.  Teacher and administrator training, through pre- and in-service training can prepare early childhood settings and schools to effectively engage with parents.

 

Resources [v]

Bohan-Baker, M., & Little, P. (2002). The Transition to Kindergarten : A Review of Current Research and Promising Practices to Involve Families. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/the-transition-to-kindergarten-a-review-of-current-research-and-promising-practices-to-involve-families

Kauerz, K. (2010). PreK-3rd: Putting full-day kindergarten in the middle. New York, NY: Foundation for Child Development.

Ladd, G. W., & Kochenderfer, B. J. (1996). Linkages between friendship and adjustment during early school transitions. In W. M. Bukowski, A. F. Newcomb & W.W. Hartup (Eds.) The company they keep: Friendship in childhood and adolescence. Cambridge studies in social and emotional development (pp. 322-345). New York, NY, U.S.: Cambridge University Press.

National Education Goals Panel. (1998). Ready schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Pianta, R. C., Cox M. J., & Snow, K. (2007). School readiness and the transition to kindergarten in the era of accountability. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. 

Reynolds, A. J., Magnuson, K. A., & Ou, S. (2010). Preschool-to-third grade programs and practices: A review of research. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1121–1131.

Schulting, A. B., Malone, P. S., & Dodge, K. A. (2005). The effect of school-based kindergarten transition policies and practices on child academic outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 41(6), 860–871.

Tout, K., Halle, T., Daily, S., Albertson-Junkans, L., and Moodie, S. (2013). The research base for a birth through age eight state policy framework. Bethesda, MD: Child Trends. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=the-research-base-for-a-birth-through-eight-state-policy-framework-2




[i] Kauerz, 2010, p. 8

[ii] Bohan-Baker & Little, 2002; National Education Goals Panel, 1998; Pianta, Cox , & Snow, 2007.

[iii] For examples of local districts implementing birth to third grade approaches, see http://fcd-us.org/resources/fcd-case-studies

[iv] Reynolds, Magnuson, & Ou,  2010.