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Seven Questions to our Kindergarten Readiness Experts

1) What is kindergarten readiness?

Kindergarten readiness is the ability for a child to adapt to kindergarten and is focused on five developmental areas. These areas were developed based on the following three components which are the best predictors of outcomes for children entering kindergarten.

1) Child-to-school and family-to-school connection. These connections introduce children to the kindergarten classroom, the school environment, the new routines, and their new teacher, increasing the comfort level of children and families with the transition process to the new school.

2) School-to-school connection.  Encourage a connection between your child’s preschool and kindergarten teachers. Have preschool staff identify goals and share information about child’s progress. This helps kindergarten teachers become familiar with individual children.

3) Community-to-school connection. There are many community resources available to support families and schools. Utilizing resources within the community to support continuity of care helps during the transition process.

2) What are the key factors in preparing a child for kindergarten? Is it just ensuring they know their ABCs and 123s?

Stability and consistency between settings is one crucial component for early childhood success. This is one of the key areas where transition experiences can really make a difference; by helping to bridge the gap between Pre-k and Kindergarten. Successful transitions can help to promote consistency between school and home. The Teachers’ support and consistency in and out of the classroom can predict the children’s social/emotional along with academic success.

The following five developmental domains that support school readiness are:

  • Health & Physical Well-Being motor development, physical activity, good nutrition, and self-care.
  • Social and Emotional Development – ability to build relationships, sense of self & others, and learning about feelings.
  • Approaches to Play & Learning – curiosity, risk-taking and problem solving.
  • Language Development – emerging literacy skills: reading, writing and communicating.
  • Cognitive Development – knowledge derived from experiences, creative expression, science/math exploration, thinking & reasoning.

3) What age should kindergarten readiness start? Family reading image

School readiness starts prenatally. Children who are cared for and nurtured in a way that promotes an ability to thrive and ensures their health & safety while promoting positive emotional/social health and well-being; builds upon the cognitive well-being. This intern encompasses the skills that your child needs at each developmental stage. Children born at a healthy birthweight and form a positive attachment are far more likely to achieve positive outcomes associated with completion of school

4) As a parent, what should I do to prepare my child?

Creating connections to facilitate a successful transition to kindergarten requires focused efforts. Transition work is most effective when strong relationships and valuable partnerships between children, families, school, and early childhood programs is established before kindergarten starts.

In the State of North Carolina, we are very fortunate to have the guidance of Early Learning Standards.  The latest version of the Early Learning Standards is North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development, and covers infants through older preschoolers. Early Childhood teachers in North Carolina receive training and support in the use of the Early Learning Standards. As a parent, ask your child’s teacher about the Foundations tool and how it is used in the classroom to support your child’s readiness for school.

Information about the Foundations tool is available on North Carolina’s Division of Child Development and Early Education’s website:

School Readiness Resources for Families:

Selected children’s books about kindergarten: Walking to kindergarten

  • A Place Called Kindergarten by Jessica Harper
  • Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee
  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
  • I am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child
  • Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson
  • Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come/Preparate, kindergarten! Alla voy! by Nancy Carlson
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff
  • Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston
  • Que Nervios! El Primer Dia de Escuela by Julie Danneberg
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Un Beso en Mi Mano by Audrey Penn
  • Welcome to Kindergarten by Anne Rockwell

 5) Is there a program I can enroll my child in? If so, is there a cost?

You can contact your local Partnership for Children, Child Care Resource & Referral Agency, Division of Child Development & Early Education, or Local Education Agency.

In the State of North Carolina, the most widely available school readiness program is NC Pre-K. NC Pre-K is a high quality pre-kindergarten program designed to provide 4-year-old children with a valuable educational experience, which prepares them for success in kindergarten and beyond. NC Pre-K is state-funded and available to eligible children at no cost to families.

6) If I am not a parent, what can I do to support children and families in my community?

Community links help to ensure continuity for children and help provide cohesion to the services offered to children during the preschool and kindergarten years. Here are some ways to foster community-school connections:  Ask community organizations, pediatricians’ offices, and libraries to display or distribute brochures, videos, and home activity calendars to children and families. Also, volunteer with community agencies that work with families (ex., Housing Authority, and Social Service Agencies, Guardian ad Litem, Find A Friend, Big Brother & Big Sister, 4-H Club, YMCA, School Mentoring Programs, Great Oaks, From Boys to Men, Libraries Parks and Recreation, etc.). {These agencies are ready and willing to provide their volunteers trainings in their area of expertise} Coordinate with local shops and restaurants that provide delivery to deliver information about kindergarten registration to communities that might be difficult to reach by other methods. Be an advocate for early childhood by supporting government leaders who support early childhood issues and legislation that strengthens our early childhood education system. Help family and friends when they are having trouble getting their children to preschool due to illness or transportation issues. Lastly, anytime you have the opportunity to read to a child do it.

7) What else would you like parents, grandparents and non-parents to know?

The goal of a smooth transition is to create conditions for a successful adjustment. Just like over our lives we have many transitions (ex. going to college, getting married, beginning a new job or career, moving to a new town, or experiencing an empty nest … it all takes adjustment and transition. Why would we think transitioning our children would not be an adjustment? The three major contributions to setting up successful adjustment during transitions are:

  1. Access to information (The more you know, the more at ease you feel).
  2. Supportive relationships (Social connections are always important).
  3. Alignment between environments (The more your new environment mimics the old, the easier your transition will be).

It literally takes a village to prepare children to be happy, healthy and ready to succeed in life. There are things that can be done on all different levels by all different kinds of people that contribute to school readiness. Children that successfully complete school go on to be strong supporters and contributors to their community, which benefits the entire community.

Answers provided by Partnership for Children of Cumberland County team members:

Candace Scott, Vice President of Child Care Resource and Referral
Ar-Nita Davis, NC Pre K Coordinator
Michelle Bailey, Early Education Coordinator

Looking for the NC Pre-K program application? Download forms here.