Pre-K & K Articulation
From economics to neuroscience, education to public policy, a vast body of research demonstrates that early education matters. Moreover, the critical window for developing the cognitive, social and academic foundation that helps children thrive in later learning is between birth to age eight. More and more education leaders are beginning to think about their work as encompassing this span of early childhood, many of whom are focusing on preschool through third grade. Visit Early Edge California or the Foundation for Child Development for more information about Pre-K - 3rd education.
TK is at the center of this important period, and TK teachers can play a critical role in connecting Pre-K, TK and kindergarten through alignment, collaboration and articulation. This collaboration ensures teachers are working together to build on student learning year by year, during the most critical learning period for children. Connecting TK and early childhood educators can help to deepen knowledge of best practices to support young learners. In addition, articulation between TK and kindergarten teachers can support teachers as they determine how to complement each other in a two-year kindergarten program.
Both the Preschool Learning Foundations and California's Common Core State Standards for kindergarten have been critical instructional guides, and TK teachers can greatly benefit from your instructional leadership on bridging the two. As many districts have done, you might consider facilitating opportunities for visiting model preschools, TK, and kindergarten programs and time to reflect on how to apply the relevant best practices.
Local Spotlight: LAUSD Resolution in Support of Aligning Preschool through 3rd Grade
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) passed a Resolution in Support of Aligning Preschool through 3rd Grade. The resolution calls for the development of a framework based on educational standards, curricula, assessment and professional development that are strongly aligned across high-quality pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. Through this resolution, a Task Force will develop goals and a comprehensive plan to align preschool through 3rd grade.
Having early learning experts lead and support implementation has been helpful in bridging the key elements of teaching young learners with the rigors of kindergarten. Below are examples of steps many districts have taken to support pre-k articulation:
- Ensure the Director of Early Childhood Education leads or co-leads the implementation of TK. If your district does not have an Early Childhood Education Director, consider including a local early childhood education leader (e.g. Head Start director, director of State Preschool).
- Support TK/pre-K teacher partnerships that can support TK teachers in addressing social-emotional development in the classroom, as well as more developmentally appropriate approaches to instruction in areas like English Language Arts and Mathematics.
- Partner with local early childhood education providers and build off the ongoing interactions, and often times, personal connections with families that can provide helpful insights about children’s assets, learning needs and other factors that can contribute to student success.
- Offer TK teachers tools that help them understand where students are on the continuum of student learning. One useful tool for articulating the continuum is the Desired Results Developmental Profile - School Readiness (DRDP-SR). Web or in-person training on the DRPD-SR is available at West Ed’s website.
TK and kindergarten collaboration is an essential aspect of building a comprehensive two-year kindergarten experience for TK students. Below are some examples of what has been done in the past to support articulation between TK and kindergarten:1
- School districts can leverage the focus on the TK program to enrich all of preschool through grade three, and increase opportunities for vertical articulation at school sites and early education centers.
- Schools can schedule monthly, or at a minimum, quarterly articulation meetings among these grade levels to support this transition and ongoing articulation.
- Administrators can offer regularly scheduled staff development that includes training in assessment, curriculum and developmentally appropriate practices to address the ongoing needs of the two-year kindergarten program.
- Administrators can encourage teachers to work together in TK and kindergarten classrooms whenever possible, allowing teachers to provide more individualized support for students and gain better understanding of each program.
- TK and kindergarten teachers can support each other by team teaching when possible. Districts that have morning and afternoon half-day TK and traditional kindergarten might be particularly well-positioned for this.
1 Examples listed in, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (2011). Transitional Kindergarten Planning Guide: A Resource for Administrators of California Public School Districts, 15.