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illustration of Esther Lasher      “Part of my role as a Head Start educational director is to facilitate all of the connections that are crucial for children’s successful transitions to kindergarten. I work with our families to make sure they feel connected to our early childhood programs as well as quality elementary schools, and I hope to ensure that children feel a sense of belonging to the educational institution they end up attending."


“Part of my role as an educational director is to facilitate all of the connections that are crucial for children’s successful transitions to kindergarten. I attempt to make linkages between local district schools and kindergartens, and develop agreements and avenues for our programs to collaborate for the benefit of children. I work with our families to make sure they feel connected to our early childhood programs as well as quality elementary schools, and I hope to ensure that children feel a sense of belonging to the educational institution they end up attending. This spring, I instituted our first Head Start ‘kindergarten fair,’ where representatives from different kindergartens nearby came and talked about the curriculum they use. A group of parents came and asked principals some good questions.

“After the fair, I sat with the principals, and we talked about different ways the kindergartens could continue to reach out to families and children over the spring and summer before kindergarten starts. I suggested we start to develop a community-wide transition plan based on information I pulled from the Internet. It would be great if we could get families, the district, and community groups more involved in this process. The transition plan could contain simple activities that the elementary schools and the early childhood community could organize to help smooth the transition process. For example, teachers could send information about the kindergarten program home to parents before the year starts, and if possible, kindergarten teachers could send letters to families introducing themselves. The transition plan could also address some of the broader policies that need to be put in place for transitions to be more effective. For instance, it would be great to find a way for Head Start and kindergarten teachers to share outcomes reports and written records. I also talked to the principals a lot about the home visiting we do here in Head Start at the beginning and end of the year and how these home visits strengthen the bonds and trust between parents and teachers. This might also be an effective practice for kindergarten teachers to adopt.

“Unfortunately, however, sometimes kindergarten classroom lists aren’t put together until the last minute, and teachers aren’t aware of their class composition until a few days before school starts. Principals also mentioned difficulties in scheduling events over the summer while teachers are on break. It would be helpful if the district took steps to bring us together at a time convenient for everyone, but they’ve been largely silent on the issue.

“Something that came out of the meeting that I’m particularly excited about is the possibility of starting up some joint professional development workshops for the kindergarten and Head Start teachers. I think that would be a great way for us to make sure that our curriculum, standards, and assessments are aligned and for kindergarten teachers to see that we are implementing the Common Core in our early childhood programs. Even more important, it would give our preschool teachers a great way to talk to families about what to expect in kindergarten.”

A Portion of the Draft Transition Planning Document: Transition Activity Ideas by Connection

Type of Connection

Transition Activity

Child—Early Childhood Program/Kindergarten

  • Establish bonds between the preschool child and the kindergarten teacher.
  • Encourage preschool teachers to stay in contact with their former students and families.
  • Hold spring kindergarten visits for preschool children.

Family—Early Childhood Program/Kindergarten

  • Expect kindergarten teachers to communicate with families before the school year begins.
  • Have teachers contact families during the first few days of preschool and kindergarten.
  • Hold orientations and workshops for families during preschool, over the summer, and through kindergarten to inform them about kindergarten expectations.
  • Encourage family participation in home learning activities.
  • Support home visits early in the kindergarten year.

Early Childhood Program/Kindergarten

  • Align curriculum across early childhood and kindergarten programs.
  • Coordinate standards across early childhood and elementary school programs.
  • Develop procedures to share assessment information about individual children.
  • Create joint professional development opportunities among early childhood, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers.

Community

  • Add other community members to the transition team (e.g., representatives from libraries, nonprofit organizations, other families).
NOTE: Based on materials developed by the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning. Learn more and find the complete transition plan.


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illustration of Maya Warren
illustration of Maya's mother illustration of Teresa Guzman illustration of Tanya Robinson small image of a data table illustration of Esther Lasher


 
illustration of the people in the Bridging Worlds Case
Maya

Maya’s mother

Preschool teacher

Kindergarten teacher

Supporting data

Educational director

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