The transition a child makes from kindergarten to elementary school is not always an easy one. Undetected developmental issues, missed registration dates and poor communication between school administrators are just a few of the obstacles that face children and their families.
Experts gathered Thursday at Niagara University to discuss various strategies for making the monumentalmove to elementary school easier. The first annual Kindergarten Transition Summit also took a broader look at early childhood education.
Participants stressed that if children are not adequately prepared for elementary school, it could cause problems as they move through the education system.
Some of the issues that were broached were fairly basic.
“You don’t want to send your child on the bus and have them sent home because they’re not registered. That starts off their kindergarten career with some unnecessary trauma,” said Nick Randell, a program officer for The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.
The foundation provides a three-year grant for the Niagara Quality Improvement Project, an initiative that focuses on bettering early childcare in classrooms across Niagara County.
Focusing on the issues facing kindergarten students as they transition is important, experts said.
“These early years are the foundation and the building blocks for higher learning,” said Lynnette Haley O’Stewart, director of the Niagara Quality Improvement Project. “So if we’re talking about cradle to career, it’s very critical that we make sure that the families have what they need right on the front end as much as possible.”
Teachers, state officials, administrators and funding organizations took part in the summit. They discussed the effectiveness of initiatives that currently provide schools and families with childcare resources.
Families play a key role in a child’s smooth transition to elementary school. O’Stewart said parents can use the online questionnaire Ages and Stages to track their child’s developmental milestones and detect any possible issue. To foster literacy skills, parents need not look much farther than the home or grocery store.
“You don’t even need a lot of fancy tools and games and money, but right in your own home there are many things—just using common objects in the home to support early school literacy,” O’Stewart said.
Conducting a scavenger hunt for items in a grocery store, sorting socks by color and modeling reading left to right are all ways that parents can foster the skills that could make all the difference when transitioning from kindergarten into elementary school.