• Going to kindergarten is a developmental milestone.
Regardless of educational, cultural, or socioeconomic back-
ground, all families know about going to school, and all families
want their children to do well in school. The entry into kin-
dergarten is a milestone in the lives of families, likely the most
important step since the child was born. Even for children who
have attended a child care center or a family child care home,
kindergarten is the beginning of their formal education. Starting
kindergarten is exciting and scary at the same time. It can also
be intimidating, particularly for families with lower levels of
education and for new immigrants who are not familiar with the
culture and language of education.
• All families want the best for their children.
Depending on their level of education and knowledge of
the educational system, families have different ways of viewing
kindergarten. Highly educated families tend to approach the
entrance to kindergarten in the same way they would approach
looking for a college. They conduct research and visit schools to
choose the one that best meets their needs. Parents feel confident
in their ability to advocate for their child, so they ask about cur-
riculum, visit the school’s Web site to review test scores, and sign
up to volunteer in the classroom.
Immigrant families, families in poverty, and families with low
educational levels are less familiar with the culture of education.
These families are not as aware of their choices, and they may not
know how to conduct the search. If their child already attends a
preschool program, they rely on guidance from the staff. They
also expect that the school system will help them and provide
the best for their children. They are unsure about the rules
and expectations schools have regarding family involvement.
Unfortunately, if they act in ways that do not match educators’
hopes, they are perceived as being uninterested in their children’s
education (Christenson 1999).