Every Child Deserves a Strong Start
New Initiative Aims to Celebrate High-Impact Kindergarten Transition Efforts
By Kirsten Eamon-Shine, Early Learning Indiana
Consistent research shows that improving kindergarten transitions improves children’s K-12 careers. Across the nation, states including Illinois, West Virginia and Washington and local communities such as Boston, Portland and Pittsburgh have launched initiatives to make the most of children’s experiences entering kindergarten. A new competition funded by Indiana’s Preschool Development Grant, the Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize, will both reward and share effective Hoosier efforts that guide children from early learning programs to kindergarten classrooms.
This month, thousands of Hoosier children began their kindergarten journey. On their first day, though, many of those young students arrive unprepared to succeed in their new classroom — even those who have been in great early learning settings. That lack of preparation shows up, in more challenging behaviors, decreased academic outcomes and lower family engagement. We can’t expect children to make the big jump from pre-K to kindergarten without giving them support in the transition.
An effective transition to kindergarten sets the stage for school success, and the greatest gains are demonstrated for children who experience social and economic risks. Children who attend programs that foster pre-K to K-12 connections and family engagement benefit in several ways. They can manage the uncertainty in their new school. Their parents can both support the transition and remain engaged in their child’s academic career. Their pre-K teachers can align their lessons to kindergarten expectations. Finally, their K-12 teachers and administrators can influence early childhood to ensure kindergarten readiness.
The Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize will award $5,000 to $25,000 to schools and organizations in Indiana who have created innovative and high-impact kindergarten transition programs. Early Learning Indiana is managing the prize process and is seeking examples of meaningful, innovative and replicable transition practices from small and large communities. Applications for the Strong Start for Kindergarten Prize are due no later than Monday, August 30 at 5 p.m.
Want to learn more about kindergarten transition practices? Early Learning Indiana will share both the Strong Start for Kindergarten winning practices and the results of their national landscape review of effective practices later this year. Join the organization’s mailing list to be among the first to read the report