Monday, April 15, 2013

Readiness for Kindergarten: What Schools Can Do

Kindergarten Readiness: What School’s Can Do

Protheroe, N. (2006). Readiness for Kindergarten: What Schools Can Do. Principal (Reston, Va.), 86(1), 32-36.

In this article, Nancy Protheroe, begins by stating, “The emphasis on school readiness makes perfect sense, since it is a given that children who start kindergarten well-prepared tend to be more successful learners that those who are less ready. However, while research has demonstrated that quality preschool experiences can payoff in long-term financial as well as student achievement benefits, the reality is that such publicly provided preschool programs are not available for all children who need them.” To help children and families in the latter situation. Protheroe strongly advocates for the following two things:
  • Develop a community wide understanding of skills and knowledge important to children as they enter kindergarten.
  • Provide information and education to other childcare providers and families so they can help develop these skills and knowledge.

Protheroe highlights some interesting point about what it means to be ready for Kindergarten. She shares how many parents and caregivers are likely to emphasize skills such as counting, reading and writing. Teachers, on the other hand, usually emphasize the importance of the “child’s enthusiasm, effective communication, and appropriate behaviors as critical kindergarten readiness skills.” 

Because of the lack of common understanding of the skills a child needs transition smoothly to kindergarten, Protheroe shares some examples of how communities have opened communication in attempt to establish a “community wide set of expectations regarding school readiness.” Some examples of community approaches to help share these common expectations were as follows:
  • Holding family nights for preschool parents
  • Provide workshops for parents
  • Free “transition packages” (pencils, scissors, glue, etc)
  • Kindergarten teacher reaching out to parents before kids are enrolled

A final quote that struck me was that it would be extremely helpful for parents and staff to better “understand adult behaviors that support children’s learning. For example, the Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force suggests that knowing “when children can figure out new ideas and concepts on their own, and when it is important to explain things to them step-by-stem” is critical for prekindergarten childcare providers.” 

I found this quote striking. I think it is a very important point to be made. It makes me think of the old adage, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed the village.” Sometimes with young children and parents we rob them of valuable learning experiences by interfering too quickly. 

From this article, I appreciate Protheroe’s ideas about creating and establish a community definition of what it means to be school ready and her suggestions to share that information to create a community approach to helping families transition to kindergarten a bit smoother. 

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