What is the best way to approach school readiness?

As we begin, the work group is examining what other states have done over the past ten years to define school readiness.  Looking at these, we believe that a comprehensive view is the best approach for Tennessee’s children — one that looks not only at the skills and abilities that children need to be successful in school,  but also  includes the ways that families, schools, and communities support children’s readiness for school success.

This is the approach that the National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) proposed in 1991 in their report on the state of education in the United States. Since then,  across the country the inclusion of families, schools and communities has been a growing trend, and indeed the approach used by states that have worked on school readiness definitions most recently. We think this approach will put Tennessee in the forefront of the national conversation about school readiness.

As we begin, we also know that communities and school districts around the state have already begun discussions about school readiness and we will be reviewing  as much of that work as we can find. So please, if you have participated in any of these discussions,  weigh in about your approach.

I welcome your thoughts.

Carol Brunson Day

 

 

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4 Responses to What is the best way to approach school readiness?

  1. Doug Imig says:

    A kindergarten-ready child has a strong foundation in Language & Literacy, Thinking Skills, Self-Control, and Self-Confidence. Positive early experiences, beginning at birth, strengthen these four kindergarten readiness skills.

    Language & Literacy: Babies learn about language by listening to words. A growing vocabulary strengthens a child’s readiness for reading.

    Thinking Skills: Children are natural scientists and their first experiments teach them about the world, and help them get ready for math and science.

    Self-Control: A child who tries to solve problems through words, takes turns, and pays attention is ready to be a good classroom citizen.

    Self-Confidence: Confident children are ready to learn. They follow their curiosity and are quick to recover from mistakes.

    When these four foundations are strong, a child is ready to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

    • Doug Imig says:

      As we continue to work with the Memphis community on a shared understanding of Kindergarten readiness, we have fine-tuned this definition. Currently, our thinking is that:

      A kindergarten-ready child has a strong foundation in Language & Literacy, Thinking Skills, Self-Control, and Self-Confidence. Positive early experiences, beginning at birth, strengthen these four kindergarten readiness skills.

      Language & Literacy: When babies hear words, they learn about language. A growing vocabulary strengthens a child’s readiness for reading.

      Thinking Skills: Children are natural scientists. Their first experiments teach them about the world and help them get ready for math and science.

      Self-Control: A child who is socialized to solve problems through words, take turns, and pay attention is ready to be a good classroom citizen.

      Self-Confidence: Confident children are ready to learn. They follow their curiosity and are quick to recover from mistakes.

  2. Assuming this effort is about all children, it might be helpful to consider the outcomes the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education requires states to report on for children with disabilities. As outcomes of the infant-toddler program (Part C of IDEA) and the preschool special education program (Section 619 of Part B of IDEA), these are what are aimed for, before children start kindergarten. They are (1) positive social relationships, (2) acquire and use skills and knowledge, and (3) take action to meet needs. I don’t think these are the most understandable outcomes, but some alignment with federal outcomes for children with special needs should be considered. See OSEP and ECO Center websites for more information.

    I believe a more understandable set of outcomes for young children with or without special needs is (a) engagement (given appropriate supports, the child participates in home, school, and community routines), (b) independence (the child is developmentally appropriately independent in home, school, and community routines), and (c) social relationships (the child communicates and gets along with others in home, school, and community routines). I can send references for descriptions of this framework.

  3. Betty Mallott says:

    School readiness must involve the parents of the young children. There should be multiple paths to achieving school readiness so that parents have choices, tools, and support. School readiness curriculum and tools should be available to churches and other community groups.

    Older children can also assist in school readiness for younger children. Children are natural teachers of younger children and should be encouraged with good tools and support. This is an opportunity for reinforcement and developing confidence of the older children while engaging them in the important work of leading others to learn.

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