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School readiness is foundational across early childhood systems and programs. It means children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children’s learning, and schools are ready for children.
Head Start views school readiness as children possessing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life. Physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development are all essential ingredients of school readiness.
The Head Start Approach to School Readiness means that children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children’s learning, and schools are ready for children.
Each program is required to set their own goals for children working toward school readiness. In Minnesota, MHSA has taken a state-wide approach to reviewing data about children’s progress toward school readiness and analyzed it to identify ways programs can make improvements that will support increased growth in our children, to help them be better prepared for entering Kindergarten and sustaining that growth into elementary school.
No matter if your child is in Early Head Start or Head Start, center/classroom based or home based, every program is required to use an evidence or research based curriculum. Curriculum is a tool for teachers that helps them provide activities for children that are designed to promote their educational growth – to learn new skills and increase their knowledge. If curriculum is used as designed, it will help children gain the skills to become “school ready.”
Once the curriculum has been used, is to do an ongoing assessment of your child’s skills. That means they are checking to make sure children are learning what they’ve been teaching. If they are not seeing your child grow, they should be re-teaching the skills that your child may not have learned.
One way to help make sure that children are learning skills they may struggle with is to encourage YOU, the parent, to work on these skills at home, too. This is a “curriculum extension” – some programs use this time as “in kind contributions” and it is their way to have you help in the education of your child.
As each child nears completion of the program, their teacher, home visitor, or family advocate should be working with them to plan for their transition to the next step.
This may be from Early Head Start to Head Start, to a different classroom / teacher within the program, to another program all together – like moving on to Kindergarten.
Minnesota Department of Education and Help Me Grow offers some resources to help families as they prepare to move on to Kindergarten:
Many programs will work with their local public and private schools to do transition planning, visit Kindergarten classrooms, and share information with the teachers in their new setting to ease the transition for children and families.
Once a child is determined to have a developmental delay or a disability, parents may find it difficult to understand the process or navigate the system. A resource that is useful to parents / families is PACER. The PACER Center enhances the quality of life and expand opportunities for children, youth and young adults with all disabilities and their families so each person can reach his or her highest potential.
PACER operates on the principles of parents helping parents, supporting families, promoting a safe environment for all children, and working in collaboration with others. PACER works to increase awareness; provides facts; helps with advocacy, public policy, and legislation; and provides training for professionals and parents.