From Pre-school to Kindergarten – working together across the early years as a team
Almost three hundred teachers from preschools, kindergarten and first grade, who’d already put in a tough day’s work, showed up to spend several more hours on the job at the Together for Kindergarten Forum. The dedication that teachers have to their students, even in these tough times, was awe-inspiring. Educators across the pre-k to k-12 spectrum spent an evening listening to one another, and planning, trying to figure out how to better prepare a child so that their first impression of school is more positive and less stressful.
Senator Joseph Simitian was the keynote speaker at the 2nd annual “Together for Kindergarten” forum organized by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and the Childhood Advisory Council. Simitian explained the recently-signed-into-law Kindergarten Readiness Act (SB 1381). The audience listened carefully to learn about the new legislation that will change the age youngsters can enter kindergarten. The legislation, authored by Simitian has outspoken support as its purpose is that all children are prepared for success when they enter kindergarten. Research indicates beginning kindergarten at an older age improves children’s social and academic development.
Simitian took the time to speak and, most importantly, sit with attendees to participate in meaningful conversations at the various tables. Educators felt their comments were being heard as part of the solution. During the forum, everyone had a chance to write questions and comments that Simitian would take back to the state legislature for input on the implementation portion of the bill.
The law states that children must be 5 years old by Sept. 1st. to enter kindergarten, rather than the current policy that allows kindergartners who turn 5 by December 2nd each year to enter school. California was previously one of only four states with a cut off date later than December 1st. In most states, children must turn 5 by September 1st in order to start Kindergarten.
Simitian touted a $700 million savings because fewer children will be in kindergarten classes – half of which would go toward the state budget deficit and half of which would go toward paying for “transitional kindergarten” classes for the students whose birthdays fall between Sept. 1st and Dec. 2nd.
Early educators, school teachers and administrators – sitting in groups by neighborhoods – also did several activities to improve kindergarten transition strategies. Working together on continuity of services between preschool, the child’s home and kindergarten kept the conversations lively for hours.
The last activity asked participants to commit to more ways to integrate effective transition activities. Hundreds agreed to various components such as: visits to kindergarten, starting school routines (bed time, breakfast, circle time and reading with parents). Teachers agreed to align the curriculum and have combined professional development. Many participants stated they wished they had more time together.
The forum was held at New Brighton Middle School. Snacks and hors d’oeuvres were served by high school students from County Office of Education Regional Occupation Program.
For more information please contact Carole Mulford (831) 466-5821.
Read the Santa Cruz Sentinel article about the 2nd Annual Together for Kindergarten Community Forum.
Find out about the Together for Kindergarten Community Forum 2010.