can we reach disadvantaged families and preschoolers
with information concerning kindergarten preparedness?
children entering kindergarten, especially those
from low socioeconomic and/or minority households,
come to school with limited or no preschool experience.
A 2000 survey completed by kindergarten teachers
has reported that, in general, each year a quarter
of the incoming kindergarten students lack basic
skills in social, emotional, motor, and academic
areas (Rim- Kaufman, Pianta, and Cox). Kindergarten
programs are increasingly placing more academic
demands on students as evidenced by state and district
standards and benchmarks. In fact, kindergarten
programs look more like pre-first- or first-grade
classrooms with a strong emphasis on reading and
literacy skills. There are learning and skill acquisition
gaps between preschool and kindergarten, and these
gaps often continue to impact student achievement
in upper grades. How can the gaps between preschool
and kindergarten be bridged in order to build a
strong foundation for future learning success?
quality preschool is in high demand. Those families
at the upper income levels frequently take advantage
of quality preschool opportunities. However, for
many families in lower income brackets or those
families with minority classifications, quality
preschool is a missed opportunity. It also proves
difficult for middle-income families to take full
advantage of quality preschool opportunities. One
possible solution is universal preschool. Although
the price tag for this proposal is costly, it has
a reported seven-to-one return on investment in
broad public benefits. Studies have shown some of
the following results: better academic achievement
in school and on achievement tests, and the narrowing
of the achievement gap between poor and/or minority
students and more advantaged students.
action research project looks at bridging early
childhood education from preschool to kindergarten
and future grades. It explores the prerequisite
skills kindergarten teachers identify as important
for entering kindergarten students to possess, the
skill deficits that kindergarten teachers see in
the students entering kindergarten, and the ways
in which teachers can reach disadvantaged preschoolers
and their families with materials and information
to better prepare the children for kindergarten.
- Policy makers should become familiar with studies
that cite the impact of quality preschool on academic
success in later years.
- Local officials should communicate with their
constituents about the availability of preschools
in their areas.
should be made available for low-income families
so they can send their children to at least one
year of preschool before entering kindergarten.
universal preschool should be instituted at the
state or the national level to ensure an equal
opportunity for all incoming kindergartners, regardless
of socioeconomic status.