“You are? And what is that?” I ask.
“That’s the big school, silly!” She rolls her eyes, incredulous at my
ignorance of life’s important things. “For the big kids, because I am
Malika’s mom sighs. “Yes, my baby is a big kid now.” She looks
proud and a little apprehensive at the same time. Her face tells me
that going to kindergarten will be a big event for this family, even
though Malika is going to the neighborhood elementary school,
which is only five blocks from her home and where her brother is
already in the second grade.
Going to kindergarten is the official beginning of a child’s educational
career. It is an important part of child development and the family life
cycle. It is also an important time for the school to make a good first im-
pression. Similarly, I want to begin this book’s important discussion by
presenting my beliefs, which are based on current research, best practices,
and my years of professional experience and observations.
• The transition to kindergarten is not a one-time event.
A transition is a passage from one place or stage to another.
It requires adapting feelings, thoughts, and behaviors from an
old situation to a new one. When children enter kindergar-
ten, they go from the intimate world of home or child care to
the institutional world of education, especially if they attend
a public school. Their families make the same adaptation. The
transition is not a one-time event happening on the first day of
school; rather, the transition begins before children enter school
and continues during their first year. The family, the preschool
program, and the receiving elementary school all play important
roles in making the transition smooth and productive. In order
for this to happen, these three groups must know one another
well, understand their different roles, share information, express
their hopes, and work together for the children’s benefit (Pianta,
Rimm-Kaufman, and Cox 1999).