My middle child is four years old, and will be starting kindergarten in the fall. While that may seem like a long time away, I know from experiencing this transition once before that it helps to start thinking about it early.
The Harvard Family Research Project, part of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, addresses access and equity in children’s learning opportunities. Their recently published newsletter offers parents and educators evidence-based tips on improving children’s transition to school. Here are some of the highlights:
- Research shows that children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have a more difficult transition to school. But programs targeted at low-income families can help children by preparing them to make new friends and understand and follow the rules of the classroom.
- A quality transition to kindergarten increases the likelihood that children will experience academic success, exhibit fewer problem behaviors, and develop new skills rapidly. This type of quality transition involves families and schools working together to share information, and to create continuity in curriculum, assessments, and relationships.
- Families play an important role in the transition to school because they provide children with stability, comfort, and a sense of what to expect. There are some practical steps families can take to provide children with a positive transition to school. They include:
- Reading stories, playing puzzle and math games and singing songs.
- Teaching children the value of trying their best and practicing something to improve their skills.
- Accepting and discussing any nervous feelings that children express about kindergarten.
- Planning your daily routines and sleep schedule to ensure children get enough nutrition and rest for the demands of the school day.
- Building a strong relationship between families and schools helps children to succeed. That means schools need to provide parents with information about expectations of children, their academic progress, and what they can do to help children succeed. And parents need to be open to receiving this information and partnering with educators to help their children.
As a parent of a young child, knowing some evidence-based tips that will help my child succeed makes me feel more comfortable with sending her off on that school bus on the first day!