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 learning3,7. 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. 

Strategies for Creating “Ready” Schools

Here are four recommended strategies for creating “ready” schools to meet the needs of all children and their families as they enter kindergarten. 1,2,4,5,6

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.

Learn more:

  • 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.
    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.

Other Resources


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. https://doi.org/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.
  • Gooden, C., & Rous, B. (2018). Effective transitions to kindergarten for children with disabilities. In A. Mashburn, J. Locasale-Crouch, & K. C. Pears (Eds.), Kindergarten Transition and Readiness (pp. 141-162). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90200-5_6
  • Rous, B. S., & Hallam, R. A. (2012). Transition services for young children with disabilities: Research and future directions. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 31(4), 232–240. https://doi.org/10.1177/0271121411428087


  1. Ehrlich, S. B., Cook, K. D., Thomson, D., Kauerz, K., Barrows, M. R., Halle, T., Gordon, M. F., Soli, M., Schaper, A., Her, S., & Guerra, G. (2021). Understanding cross-systems transitions from Head Start to kindergarten: A review of the knowledge base and a theory of change (OPRE Report No. 2021-128). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/opre/HS2K_Task_4_Report_FINAL_508_remediation_QC.pdf
  2. Hojnoski, R. L., & Missall, K. N. (2006). Addressing school readiness: Expanding school psychology in early education. School Psychology Review, 35, 602– 614. https://doi.org/10.1080/02796015.2006.12087964
  3. 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-3973(00)00051-4
  4. 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. https://doi.org/10.1177/105381510703000102
  5. Rous, B. S., McLaughlin, T. W., & Sandall, S. R. (Eds.). (2020). DEC Recommended Practices Monograph Series No. 8 Transition: Supporting Changes in Services and Settings. Division for Early Childhood.
  6. Szydlo, T. M., & Farnsworth, E. M. (2023). Impact of Kindergarten Transition Practices in Promoting Positive Behavioral School Readiness Skills. Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education, 7(1), Article 10. https://doi.org/10.58948/2834-8257.1039
  7. Yelverton, R., & Mashburn, A. J. (2018). A conceptual framework for understanding and supporting children’s development during the kindergarten transition. In A. Mashburn, J. Locasale-Crouch, & K.  C. Pears (Eds.). Kindergarten Transition and Readiness (pp. 3-29). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90200-5_1

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