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illustration of Teresa Guzman, Preschool Teacher      “I was really caught off-guard to hear Nicole sound so unsure of herself when she contacted me to ask how to handle the situation with Maya’s difficulties in kindergarten. I hate to think that the family’s very positive experiences with Head Start might be undermined in this short amount of time.”



“I was so surprised when Nicole called me up last week to talk about the trouble Maya was having in kindergarten because Maya was always so eager to learn and Nicole was always one of our more involved parents. I was really caught off-guard to hear her sound so unsure of herself when she contacted me to ask how to handle the situation with Maya’s difficulties in kindergarten. It just doesn’t seem like we’re talking about the same family. I hate to think that the family’s very positive experiences with Head Start might be undermined in this short amount of time.

“I’m especially surprised that she’s having trouble adjusting to kindergarten because we do so many transition activities for children and the families, and she seemed fine with those. As early as September, we start talking about getting ready for kindergarten. We begin by reminding families that there are many kindergarten options out there and that they need to apply early and start preparing for the transition early as well. In February, we have a parent workshop night when we talk about what kinds of changes both children and families alike should expect when children start kindergarten, including how kindergarten classrooms might look different from a preschool environment and how family engagement might be different in kindergarten than it is here in Head Start. We also talk about practical issues such as how to fill out the kindergarten enrollment forms. In May, we take a class trip to the nearby charter school, and children shadow kindergarteners for the day. Finally, over the summer, we send home materials that include suggested activities that families can enjoy with their children before kindergarten starts.

“What’s difficult for me is that so many children attend so many different schools, that I never really have any contact with the kindergarten teachers. Although the majority of our children attend Davis Elementary, the nearby district school, I try to steer families into other choices because the school is not exactly high performing. Regardless of the school, in any case, more and more families are coming back and telling me that today’s kindergarten classrooms remind them of what second- or third-grade rooms used to look like—and that it seems that there aren’t any dramatic play areas where kids can just have fun, and there isn’t any time for children to just ‘be kids.’

“I’ve been teaching preschool now for 8 years, and over the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve seen in both Head Start and our State Universal Preschool program a real shift in their focus on child outcomes and school readiness. I’ve worked hard to adjust my teaching to meet these new challenges. All of my lessons are now aligned with state standards, and for the past 3 years, we’ve been using a great authentic observation assessment system that really helps me individualize lessons to meet children’s needs. I’m able to share all of this information with parents during our parent-teacher conferences three times a year and can give parents a clear picture of what their children can do, how their children are doing in comparison with other children, and where their children need to be.”

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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

Up Next --> Kindergarten teacher

Supporting data

Educational director

Piecing it all together

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