WORK PRODUCTS:

ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED: Guilford Child Development Head Start, High Point Public Library, Kindernoggin (preschool and childcare program in High Point) Guilford County Schools (GCS)

COMMUNITY PROBLEM: Parents, early childhood educators, teachers and administrators report significant challenges for many children during the transition from Pre-K into kindergarten resulting in lost instruction time and social and emotional issues.

CHALLENGE GOAL: Develop a pilot program that would: (1) improve connections between early childhood settings (Pre-K) and kindergarten classrooms; (2) help 4-year-olds get more socially and emotionally comfortable with the kindergarten setting prior to starting school.

READY/READY FRAMEWORK ELEMENT ADDRESSED:  RESPONSIVE & INNOVATIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM > Aligned & Accountable Policies & Programs > Effective coordination and referral network

PERSPECTIVES ENGAGED: GCS administrators; families; Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools teachers; curriculum facilitator, Pre-K and kindergarten teachers at Allen Jay Elementary in High Point.

ACTIONS TAKEN & ASSOCIATED BEST PRACTICES

  • Defined the local problem. Reviewed themes from focus groups with principals, and Pre-K and kindergarten teachers about kindergarten transition; adopted Effective Transitions to Enhance School Readiness15 approach, which describes four connections for successful kindergarten transition.
  • Identify root causes. Lack of “school to school” connections (between Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms) means missed opportunities to learn from one another and to make transition easier.
  • Identify powerful strategies to target root causes. Learned about a practice used in a Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School where video conferencing helped build stronger connections between classrooms.
  • Identify where to pilot idea. Pre-K and kindergarten teachers met with the curriculum facilitator at Allen Jay Elementary, brainstormed implementation ideas, and identified opportunities/potential barriers; agreed to conduct a pilot program at Allen Jay with three activities.
  • Started developing materials to support the pilot. Team is creating a toolkit for three kindergarten experiences: (1) a video tour of the school building and kindergarten classroom; (2) a Skype call of a planned lesson, i.e. guided reading; and (3) a Skype call highlighting a transition moment in the classroom. These experiences will be completed before an in-person visit.

WHAT WE LEARNED

  • Pre-K teachers want to learn about the kindergarten curriculum, classroom structure and atmosphere.
  • The NC Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA), a formative assessment tool aligned with the five domains for kindergarten readiness, will be implemented during 2016-17 school year.

SIGNIFICANT WINS

  • Fostered solid working relationships between Staley Head Start team and Allen Jay Elementary kindergarten teachers; will co-create intentional, beneficial interactions for Pre-K children next year.
  • Developed draft toolkit to be tested with Pre-K and kindergarten teachers, improved and launched.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Work with GCS to finalize the toolkit, make it available to a broad audience, and train teachers to use it.
  2. Create opportunities for Pre-K teachers to gain exposure to the kindergarten curriculum so they can prepare children and parents for transition to kindergarten.
  3. Create a system-wide approach for Pre-K children to connect with kindergarten teachers and students through technology and/or in-person.