A to Z’s of Early Childhood
The Science of Child Development and Learning
K is for Kindergarten Readiness
Ensuring Communities Create “Ready” Schools
“Kindergarten readiness” is a phrase used to describe the knowledge, skills, or learning approaches children need to be successful when they enter kindergarten. In preschool, emphasis is often placed on preparing children for the social and academic requirements of kindergarten. Supporting children’s successes and addressing their challenges in kindergarten can have lasting influences on later development and learning1,2. Beyond focusing on how children can be ready, it is equally important to ensure schools and classrooms are ready to support all children and families as they enter kindergarten.
Strategy 1: Create opportunities for families to learn about the school and expectations for kindergarten.
- School personnel should ensure families have formal (e.g., meet the teacher) and informal (e.g., speaking to other parents) opportunities to learn about the school and expectations for kindergarten.
- Support the family as they make plans for any changes in the child’s daily routine (e.g., school start time, stopping a daily nap, or taking the bus).
- When possible, offer opportunities for the child to transition gradually into the kindergarten classroom (e.g., attending for half a day for a month before attending a full day).
Strategy 2: Build collaborative partnerships to ensure success.
- Facilitate periodic communication between those in the “sending” environments (e.g., home or early learning center) and those in the “receiving” environment (i.e., kindergarten) at least 6 months before the child begins kindergarten.
- Help the child understand how activities, routines, and expectations are similar or different across environments (e.g., make a “countdown to kindergarten” calendar).
- Ensure opportunities for families to be engaged during and after the initial transition to kindergarten (e.g., volunteering in the classroom, eating lunch with their child).
Strategy 3: Learn about and meet each child’s unique needs to support a successful transition to kindergarten.
- Communicate about the child’s strengths, needs, and approaches to learning that have been observed in preschool (if applicable) and at home.
- Share information with the kindergarten teacher about the child’s previous learning experiences at home, in preschool, and in community environments.
- Use formal and informal information to individualize supports for each child (e.g., a child who did not have preschool experience might need more support).
Strategy 4: Communicate about child development and learning in kindergarten.
- Discuss with the family how information about children’s social and academic progress is collected and summarized in kindergarten (e.g., progress reports).
- Share formal and informal information about children’s strengths, needs, and progress during the kindergarten year.
- Communicate information about children’s development and learning, including successes and challenges, in ways that are useful to and preferred by the family (e.g., written or verbal).
What We are Doing
The Anita Zucker Center and our collaborators support early learning programs to use practices that promote “ready” schools and successful transitions to kindergarten.
- CHILD Center for Early Learning
Learn more about the CHILD Center, a model demonstration early education and care center that uses evidence-based practices to promote successful transitions to kindergarten for children and families.
- BEST in CLASS
Read more about BEST in CLASS and its home-school component that focuses on facilitating partnerships between teachers and families around children’s social, emotional learning and development, helping schools be “ready” to support all children and their families when they enter school.
- The Ready School: An Important Component of Preparing a School-Ready Child (PDF)
Read and download this PDF resource describing what it means to be a “ready school.”
- NAEYC Transitions to Kindergarten
Read this article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to learn more about the transitions to kindergarten.
- Transition to Kindergarten
Visit this Head Start/Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website to watch videos and download resources for teachers and families about preparing for the transition to kindergarten.
- Your Child Is Going to Kindergarten: Making the Move Together
This Head Start/ECLKC article describes activities and programs families can use to help support the transition to kindergarten.
- Early Childhood Transitions: Supporting Children and Families (PDF)
This PDF for early childhood professionals focuses on communication, collaboration, and advocacy when helping children and families transition between programs.
- Transition from Preschool Services to Kindergarten
This Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center webpage offers several links to research-based resources on topics related to the transition to kindergarten.
- Florida Early Learning Transition to Kindergarten
This easy-to-navigate website has videos and other useful resources for creating ready schools, communities, and families
Articles by Center Members and Collaborators
- Rous, B. (2008). Recommended transition practices for young children and families: results from a national validation survey. Lexington: University of Kentucky, Human Development Institute, National Early Childhood Transition Center.
- Rous, B., Myers, C. T., & Stricklin, S. B. (2007). Strategies for supporting transitions of young children with special needs and their families. Journal of Early Intervention, 30(1), 1-18. doi:10.1177/105381510703000102
- Rous, B., Schroeder, C., & Rosenkoetter, S. (2009). Summary of findings from the research on child-focused transition. Lexington: University of Kentucky, Human Development Institute, National Early Childhood Transition Center.
- Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2000). An ecological perspective on the transition to kindergarten: A theoretical framework to guide empirical research. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(5), 491-511.
- Yelverton, R., & Mashburn, A. J. (2018). A conceptual framework for understanding and supporting children’s development during the kindergarten transition. In J. Mashburn, J. Locasale-Crouch, & K. C. Pears (Eds.). Kindergarten Transition and Readiness (pp. 3-29). Springer, Cham.
- Hojnoski, R. L., & Missall, K. N. (2006). Addressing school readiness: Expanding school psychology in early education. School Psychology Review, 35, 602– 614.
- Rous, B. (2008). Recommended transition practices for young children and families: Results from a national validation survey. (Technical Report #3). Lexington: University of Kentucky, Human Development Institute, National Early Childhood Transition Center. Retrieved from
- Rosenkoetter, S., Schroeder, C., Rous, B., Hains, A., Shaw, J., & McCormick, K. (2009). A review of research in early childhood transition: Child and family studies. (Technical report #5). Lexington: University of Kentucky, Human Development Institute, National Early Childhood Transition Center.
- Rous, B., & Myers, C. T. (2007). Strategies to support transition for children with special needs. (Research Brief). Lexington: University of Kentucky, Human Development Institute, National Early Childhood Transition Center.
Dedicated to supporting the well-being of young children and their families, the Anita Zucker Center has engaged with its partners to launch an ambitious initiative designed to provide accessible and practical information about child development and learning to support parents, caregivers, professionals and policymakers.
The A to Z’s of Early Childhood is a trusted source that offers robust, quality and up-to-date information and resources informed by the science of early childhood development and learning – from short videos and quick tips to academic research and detailed policy briefs.