- With this year’s kindergartners still adjusting to the routines and expectations of school, administrators have two fresh resources from New America to make that process even smoother next fall.
The first is a set of four profiles describing schools and districts taking a comprehensive approach to this major transition. The Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub in Northeast Oregon, for example, connects 23 communities and 18 school districts for professional development on models such as Conscious Discipline, which focuses on building students’ self-regulation skills and social-emotional development in various early education settings.
The second resource details state, federal and other funding streams districts can use to support transition efforts, such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the Every Student Succeeds Act, Head Start, the Preschool Development Grant, and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.
While the early-childhood period covers birth to age 8, the systems that serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers and students in the primary grades largely exist under different governance structures and are financed with different funding streams.
“Because of the historic divide between early learning and the formal K-12 school system, it will require years of dedicated effort to truly establish a system that ensures students and families a transition into a kindergarten classroom that is prepared to receive them and provide them with a high-quality learning experience starting on the very first day of school," write the authors of New America's "Moving into Kindergarten" report.
To accomplish some of what the communities profiled in the report have been able to do, the authors recommend that districts hire, when possible, staff members who are responsible for reaching out to families with children under age 5 and create “cross-grade, cross-school learning communities” to allow for communication between early educators and elementary school teachers.
They also urge principals to learn about the variety of early learning programs in their surrounding communities, ask about children’s previous early learning experience on school registration forms, and connect with the directors of those programs.