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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Action Research:
Parent Involvement & Immigrant Engagement: Planting the Seeds for Success: Preschool to Kindergarten and Beyond

How can we reach disadvantaged families and preschoolers with information concerning kindergarten preparedness?

Summary

Many 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?

Affordable 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.

My 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.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • 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.
  • Funding should be made available for low-income families so they can send their children to at least one year of preschool before entering kindergarten.
  • Ideally, 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.

 

Dawn Martinez

Kindergarten and Special Education
Keene Elementary
Newark

TNLI Affiliate:
Delaware

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute--Delaware, please e-mail Michael Rasmussen.

 

 

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