• Not all children have the same readiness for kindergarten.
State and national studies estimate that about half of children
do not have the skills needed to be successful in school. There is
a wide difference in the experiences of children before they enter
kindergarten. Children who participate in a quality preschool
program (at a center or in family child care, public or private) are
better prepared for school; however, about one-third of three-
and four-year-old children in low-income families are enrolled in
preschool, compared to about two-thirds of children in higher-
income families (Olson 2007). At the same time, a child’s home
environment can either enhance or limit the child’s opportunities
for learning (Hart and Risley 1995, 1999).
To be ready for kindergarten, five-year-old children should
have the early literacy and social-emotional skills to take care of
themselves. In addition to being reasonably healthy, they also
should have the language to ask adults for what they need as well
as the ability to play cooperatively with their classmates. School-
ready five-year-olds should also understand and be able to do the
new things they are learning academically. More children could be
ready for kindergarten if their parents, caregivers, and early child-
hood teachers would prepare them intentionally for kindergarten.
• Early childhood programs have a big role in the transition to
Preschools, child care centers, family child care homes, Head
Start, and early childhood curriculum in public schools are the
programs sending children to kindergarten. They are usually
familiar with the expectations of school readiness set by state
or federal mandates, but they often feel disconnected from the
expectations of the elementary schools in their community. They
need to have as much information as possible about what hap-
pens in kindergarten classrooms. When there is a strong con-
nection between the pre-K and the K-12 worlds, there are more
opportunities to offer continuity for children and families (Pianta
and Kraft-Sayre 2003).