During the month of April, I presented on Kindergarten Transition at each of the Spring Regional Meetings hosted by Moving on Together. At each location we had great discussions about school readiness, developmentally appropriate practice, forming transition teams and sharing responsibility for transition planning as well as ideas for transition activities. In our conversations I referenced a number of research and position papers on the topics discussed. Rather than print each article for participants or even print a bibliography, I have dedicated the May column to links to the referenced articles. Even if you were not in attendance at the sessions, I hope you will find the articles useful.
For those of you reading this who are not in an MPP classroom, touch base with the MPP staff to get their thoughts about kindergarten transition in your building or district. They have a survey tool you can use as a team to evaluate existing practices. You might also wish to review as a team your district’s board approved kindergarten transition plan.
Status of Early Education: Just this week a newsletter came across my email announcing the availability of the annual report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIERR). The newsletter came from Learning First and includes links to the NIERR Annual Report.
Academic Achievement: The Learning First article also contains a link to the academic and fiscal benefits of pre-kindergarten educational programs. The academic link leads to a study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and conducted by NIEER. In addition you may want to search the Abecedarian program which is a classic study of a preschool program for low income, minority youth in Chapel Hill, NC. Analysis is still being conducted of this 1972 program as well as the also classic High Scope Perry Preschool program. The Perry project is the basis for the economic benefit article linked on the Learning First page.
Dropout Prevention: I shared with the group my frustration that most drop out prevention programs target high school or middle school students when dropout prevention really must begin in the early years. Setting an early pattern of regular school attendance is one dropout prevention method. In the September 2008 Kindergarten Transition column which is archived on the website under the newsletter tab, you will find a discussion about and link to How Maternal, Family and Cumulative Risk Affect Absenteeism in Early Schooling: Facts for Policymakers, a scholarly article from the National Center on Children in Poverty.
Coincidentally, I heard OSEDA’s Director, William Elder speak in mid April at the Children’s Trust Fund Conference and he said, “We don’t create high school dropouts in high school, we create them in third grade or earlier.” OSEDA publishes Kid’s Count which gives county by county demographic information on many indicators.
School Readiness: A number of scholarly articles and position papers are available on kindergarten readiness and minimum age requirements for beginning kindergarten. Joseph Gulino, Ph.D., Principal at St. Peters School in Jefferson City is a strong advocate for children beginning kindergarten at an older age. One of his articles, Kindergarten Readiness: A Challenge, appeared in the May / June issue of Principal. A parent friendly article with similar information titled How Young is Too Young appeared in Jefferson City Magazine, September – October 2008 and is available on the St Peter’s School website.
Participant packets included a copy of School Readiness: Implications for Policy which along with other great resources can be downloaded from the Center for Family Policy and Research at the University of Missouri.
Transition Resources: Remember, the PPP Kindergarten Transition binder contains a wealth of resources for teachers and parents on transition. If you are not sure whether the binder is available in your district, or if you would like to participate in Kindergarten Transition training, please email Janet.
If you know of other articles on this topic which should be shared, please send the link to me for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.