The following ideas were shared by preschool programs and school districts. This is a growing list and we would like you to send any new ideas that you have seen or experienced to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following are ideas that come from preschool programs:
1. Have a "photo" album of the new school (kdg). Pictures might include: the front entrance, the school bus (inside and out), the block area, class pet, pictures of teachers. These albums go on the preschool book shelf. This gives the preschoolers some concrete pictures to look at, often. Be sure to include all the schools in your school district, where your children might be attended next year.
2. Arrange a class field trip to the kdg. Make it short and pleasant.
3. Have extra copies of "open house" notices the kdg. publishes available at the preschool. (Joint effort to publicize) Post them on parent bulletin boards.
4. Encourage the kdg. teachers to do home visits prior to the start of school. One school district starts kdg. 4 days later than the rest of the grades. This allows the kdg teachers to schedule and do home visits with their new children. A great way to get to know about the child and his/her family.
5. Be sensitive to the 'systems change' the preschool parents go through as the kindergarten process starts. It's especially difficult for some first time parents. It is a new school and way of school operation to learn. Plus letting go of their little one is just that much more at the kindergarten level. Teacher sensitivity to this is very important to help the parents to usher into the next 'stage.'
6. Read a lot of books about going to kindergarten.
7. Alumni Visits: Have a few children who are in kdg. who were in Head Start (PS, day care, etc.) last year come back and tell the children about kdg. Have the children prepare their questions ahead of time.
8. Develop a portfolio of the child's work to share with the new teacher.
9. Develop a "Positive Profile" of the student (A picture of ______, A passport for _________).
10. Idea from a program that is a feeder to many elementary schools: At our College preschool and Kindergarten, the children live in many different school districts, so we can't actually take trips to the many schools they will attend. We decided that it would still be valuable to visit a nearby elementary school, just to show them a big school, with a cafeteria and many rooms. We also "play school" for a week at the end of our Kindergarten year. We bring individual desks into the room, request that children raise their hands to speak or to go to the bathroom, introduce them to worksheets, have them line up to go outside, pledge allegiance, etc., etc. (These are all new experiences to kids in our developmentally appropriate Kindergarten.) The children enjoy this experience (especially having their own private desk!) and we hope it makes first grade a little less strange for them the following fall.
11. Continuity between programs: A national Head Start organization has highlighted the importance of continuity between programs as an important element of successful transitions between preschools and elementary school. If many of the kindergartens in your community are developmentally appropriate, it would not be appropriate to bring desks into the room as part of a transition. But in the example above, if the schools to which the children are transitioning are very traditional, such a practice makes sense. Being aware of the composition of the program that children will go to makes it possible to include activities that will be most effective at transitioning them to the next step. Perhaps increasing the communication between the staffs of sending and receiving schools can be a catalyst for change so that more child-centered approaches may grow at all levels!
Ideas from School Districts:
1. Take the children to visit the elementary school. One district has the children go to the auditorium where the principal gives a VERY short welcome. Then the children are divided into groups of about 5-6 and third graders are tour guides to show the children different parts of the school. They get to spend about 10 minutes in the kdg rooms looking around with the teacher, go to the gym and play for a few minutes, see different classrooms in the school, walk through the library to see ALL THE BOOKS and end up in the cafeteria where the children walk through the line and get milk and cookies, then sit to eat them. This seems exciting to the children as they talk about it for the rest of the school year.
2. Friends in kindergarten: Make sure that some of the peers/friends from this child's class are assigned to the kdg class...if possible.
3. Visits by both receiving and sending teachers to classrooms. Communication about the strengths of individual children is very important.
4. Teacher Luncheon: District invites Head Start teachers to a luncheon provided by the school district. Head Start and Kdg teachers enjoy lunch together and get to know each other, then they spend the afternoon in a shared staff development activity.
5. Another district sponsors "KinderParties" in which students are invited for a couple of hours of activities in which they get to ride the bus, have lunch in the cafeteria and meet the teacher. Eight children attend at a time which gives the teacher time to observe them and get to know them. While children are getting introduced to the classroom and teacher, parents spend time with the principal learning about school policies and other information. (Funded through Title I dollars)
6. Summer School Programs: A three week program for preschool, Head Start, early intervention, K-2 children. The program is activity, theme-based. 20 children are assigned to three adults who spend a great deal of their time getting to know children and observing them.
7. School district sponsors a parent meeting for families sending children to kdg and parents whose children are currently in kindergarten. Families share with preschool families things they believe they need to know as their children prepare to go to kindergarten. They report that the parent's perspective is different from the district's perspective and different, important issues are raised at this meeting.
8. Present a Web Cast! District produced video and slide footage which was web cast to the community. It included pictures of the kdg, information about screening, etc. This program was produced by high school media classes. This idea has the advantage of reaching families who may not be able to attend an in-school program, but could gather the information from work or home internet connections.
9. Traveling slide show: Produce a slide show of your program. Highlight classrooms, areas of the rooms, and individual children. This too could be sent home to families who could not attend in-building events.
10. Home visits: kdg teachers visit homes of incoming children. They meet parents and children in an informal setting. They may ask children to share some of their favorite toys, ask questions that help them to understand children's interests, and listen to parent information and concerns.
11. Early Start: kdg children come to school the week before school begins. Six children and their parents come to the classroom at a time where they are introduced to the kindergarten day and meet the teacher. The first day of school in this district, each child is greeted as the bus arrives at school by an adult who escorts the child to his/her classroom. The local women's club volunteers to help with this effort so that there are enough adults to greet each child.
12. Parent/Teacher Dinner: In June or August, parents of entering children are invited to school for a dinner. They are escorted by the Head Start (preschool, day care, EI) Program teachers who also attend. Current teachers and kdg teachers are with parents as the district describes the school program. After the descriptive part of the meeting, a guest speaker presents information of interest to parents and teachers. (Literacy development was the topic last year).
13. Staggered Entry: The first three days of school, only 1/3 of the kdg class attends. This gives the kdg teacher an opportunity to get to know children in a more relaxed atmosphere. The fourth day of the week, they all come together for the first time.
14. I am currently working with one of the Early Discoveries teachers at my school. Early Discoveries is a program for at risk 4 years that is funded by a state grant (state pays half, school district pays half) and run by the YMCA. It is housed at certain schools in our district.
She and I have each visited the other's classroom. Her students came to "visit" one day while my children were at the library to "get the lay of the land". They visited last week for a story time & we have plans for them to do more of that. We will begin having a few of them at a time come in during our workstation time to work with our Ks at workstations.
This is a "pilot" program we are doing at the request of the K coordinator and the Early Discoveries coordinator. If it works, we may expand it next year by starting earlier and/or extending to other classrooms and/or schools.
Ann at the Beach
I would like to send a special "Thank you" to all the programs and districts who shared their ideas and to encourage others to send their ideas!
Links to other sites on the web about transition from preschool to kindergarten:
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