It Takes a Village: A Digest of Turn The Page STL’s Kindergarten Readiness Work Team Report

Our community partner, Turn the Page STL recently released their Kindergarten Readiness Work Team Report, which includes many interesting findings regarding the issues and themes educators experience when their students transition from pre-k to kindergarten. The work team, composed of a group of educators and other non-profit organizations (including ourselves), sought to better understand the five following factors: kindergarten readiness, summer learning, teacher preparedness, family engagement and community awareness. The team also worked to understand how home visitation programs, children’s literature, and aligned assessments can be used to support the transition to kindergarten.

The mission of our organization is to ensure that every St. Louis City family recognizes their right to local schools that serve the unique needs and interests of their children. Because this looks different for every family, the process, tools and resources we use to assist families can vary. During our work we’ve identified disparities in reading levels across our city that have been linked to low rates of kindergarten enrollment, which disproportionately affects people of color in lower income and under-resourced communities. Our Kindergarten Readiness program aims to mend this by increasing equity in educational outcomes through increased and enhanced support of St. Louis city families with kindergarten enrollment. 

Like many non-profit organizations, the similarities in our work drove us to partner with Turn the Page STL so that we could expand our reach and impact. We began working with the organization last year to inform our Kindergarten Readiness program, and to provide insights for their Kindergarten Readiness Work Team Report, and we want to share some of the most insightful takeaways for families looking to transition into this space, as well as for educators who are looking to better serve these families.

Information Teachers Would Like to Know About Their Students Prior to the First Day:

Before children transition to Kindergarten, there is a slew of information about their development up until that point – that is not usually accounted for or tracked – that would be helpful for educators to know. During a survey completed by participating educators between March 18th and April 5th, 2022, Turn the Page STL identified the following information as the most helpful for teachers to know about students prior to the first day.

  • Family History
  • Child experience with school prior to beginning kindergarten
  • Eating and sleeping habits
  • Typical amount of daily screen time
  • Activities that they enjoy  
  • Effects of covid-19 families
  • Screening information
  • FSD, IEP, YCDD, home visitations – and any other intervention information
  • Medical information, allergies, health problems
  • Methods used at home or previous school to redirect Behavior, to help child word 3 emotional situations, etc.
  • Parent expectations for the child’s growth

Other Recommendations for Families:

  • [Educators] Teaching families and their children about the kindergarten landscape and expectations before school starts. 
  • Having the teacher send information about themselves to the student before school start and include an “all about me” page for the student and their family to fill out and return to the teacher.

Although caregivers know their little ones best and are ultimately the ones who make the final decision, it truly takes a village to ensure a child’s continued success. The work team / focus group also identified the following as the most important recommendations for schools and the community system when working with families.

Recommendations for Schools:

  • Align what classrooms look like in early childhood centers with kindergarten classrooms.
  • Provide joint Pre-K and kindergarten professional learning tied to evidence-based curriculum instruction and assessment. Continue the discussion by setting up a biweekly resume for Pre-K and kindergarten teachers to join and discuss how to ease the transition.
  • Post K rating is camps that take place right before the start of kindergarten.
  •  Before school starts, provide teachers with screenings and assessments of each child. Many children in St Louis participate in parents as teachers, a home visiting program. Educate teachers about the quality and importance of early childhood screening and assessment
  •  have a set of shared going to kindergarten children’s books in the Pre-K and in the kindergarten classrooms. Pre-K teachers read and discuss the set of books in the spring, students can take home a favorite and the kindergarten teacher reads and discusses the same set of books in the fall.

Recommendations for Community System:

  • Design and Implement a Pre-K kindergarten transition plan that will ensure a consistent, funded system is in place for teachers, families and students.
  • Have a city, county wide shared kindergarten Readiness toolkit for all families
  • Align Pre-K and kindergarten assessment. Teachers highly suggested the preschool observation form and the kindergarten observation form.
  • Guarantee universal access to a mixed model of Early Childhood programs. Quality Early Childhood alleviates many transition issues. 

Kindergarten Readiness is an initiative communities across the nation are fighting to reform / enhance. The report states that 23 States plus the District of Columbia have state policies to guide the transition from pre-k to kindergarten, and that 17 states require family engagement in the process. Although our state does not currently have any of these policies in place, as a village, we can work together to successfully transition students from pre-k to kindergarten until the state catches up.

We would like to thank Turn the Page STL for their efforts, as well as all of the other organizations, educators, and parents who participated in this study.

For more information, or to view the entire report, click here.