Is Everybody Ready for Kindergarten

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DOUBLE TAB TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Introduction  5 • 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 kindergarten. 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). COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL