As parents transition out of one school year and look ahead to another, many families of preschoolers will be preparing this summer to send their children to kindergarten.
The start of kindergarten is a major milestone, both for the children and the parents walking them to a new classroom. Preschools and families play an important role in ensuring a smooth transition from an early education environment to the “big kids” school.
Preschool teachers and directors have many opportunities for supporting children and families to be kindergarten-ready, according to the San Diego County Office of Education’s Early Education Programs and Services team, which leads the San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative (QPI). Here, three preschool agencies that participate in San Diego QPI share some of their successful kindergarten transition activities that have resulted from collaboration and partnerships.
Escondido Union School District (EUSD) turned to its families to find out their needs and concerns when it comes to helping their children be kindergarten-ready. Based on a parent survey, the early education leadership team incorporated select topics into parent advisory committee (PAC) meetings. A professional development component for families was incorporated into every PAC meeting, focusing on social-emotional and academic development support for children.
At the April PAC meeting, for example, participants were given ideas for questions and topics to discuss with their child’s teacher during conferences. Many of the questions focused on kindergarten readiness and summer activities.
All of the district’s state preschool classes visit a kindergarten class on their host campus during the spring. The district has partnered with a number of preschool agencies in the city of Escondido this year to further support kindergarten transitions.
“It’s exciting to be a part of new community connections we are making that allow us to serve our students and families in the best way possible,” said Marcia Karadashian, EUSD’s state preschool coordinator. “Through our California State Preschool Program and QPI meetings, we can network to help each other improve our services to families.”
HealthRight 360 has been developing kindergarten transitions strategies and connected with EUSD this year to organize a walking trip for preschoolers, teachers, and parents to Farr Elementary School. They visited kindergarten classrooms, toured the school, and interacted with the “big kids.” Karen Kobzeff, site director at HealthRight 360’s Discovery Center, said the children still talk about the positive experience.
HealthRight 360 also supports their students who are moving on to kindergarten in the fall by providing each child with a backpack, lunch box, water bottle, and pencil box filled with essential school supplies.
Escondido Community Child Development Center also partners with EUSD to promote the transition to kindergarten. This spring, the preschool program took 96 children for weekly visits to Farr Elementary. The children were paired with 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-graders to read books together. At the end of this three-month program, the preschoolers visited kindergarten classrooms, including a dual language immersion class, to interact with the students and teachers. The experience allowed preschoolers connect with elementary-age children and left them with a positive outlook on kindergarten.
For additional strategies and activities focused on the transition to kindergarten, explore these resources from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Head Start.