Improving the Transition to Kindergarten in Rhode Island (and a great Transitions resource)

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My colleagues and I at EDC have been busy supporting First 10 work, including in Maine (13 communities and an inter-agency state First 10 team), Rhode Island, Lancaster County, PA, and Worcester, MA. First 10 in Pennsylvania is now expanding to include the 7-county South Central region of the state. I’ll be posting lessons learned from these initiatives in 2020. In the meantime I want to provide some context about a Statewide Transition to Kindergarten initiative in Rhode Island and share a key document we’ve been using to anchor this work.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is making a major commitment to improving the Transition to Kindergarten statewide. The Transition to Kindergarten is an important component of the First 10 continuum and of First 10 school hubs and community partnerships. At its heart First 10 is about bringing early childhood programs, K-12 education, and health and social services together to improve outcomes for young children and their families. Transition to Kindergarten initiatives focus on the bridge between early childhood and K-12 (ages 3-5), knitting systems together in support of ready children, families, schools, and communities. The transition to Kindergarten serves as a natural place to begin First 10 initiatives, and in fact all the First 10 plans we help communities develop include transition and alignment strategies.

We have worked with RIDE to support Rhode Island’s statewide Transition to Kindergarten initiative for the past 15 months. This initiative includes:

  • Providing an ongoing series of professional learning summits and onsite coaching for two cohorts of three communities each: (1) Newport, West Warwick, and Woonsocket, and (2) Coventry, East Providence, and North Providence. Community transition teams participate in these activities as they develop and implement Transition to Kindergarten plans.
  • Documenting these communities’ efforts in a lessons learned and case study publication.
  • Holding two statewide summits to engage and inform other communities around the state.
  • Developing a Transition to Kindergarten Toolkit to be shared with all communities.
  • Conducting a survey of kindergarten teachers’ use of data to inform teaching and learning at the beginning of the school year.

Communities have found these supports to be very helpful, and Rhode Island plans to continue offering them to more and more communities across the state.

We began this work by collaborating with Jennifer LoCosale-Crouch, a Transition to Kindergarten expert and professor at the University of Virginia, whose contributions have been invaluable. Jennifer shared an excellent resource she and colleagues developed for the National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning, Planning the Transition to Kindergarten: Collaborations, Connections, and Six Steps to Success. We have used this document as the anchor resource for all of our Transition to Kindergarten work in Rhode Island and elsewhere. It reviews the four types of Transition connections (child-school, family-school, school-school, and school-community) and describes a six-step planning process. I’m also sharing a companion list of sample Transition Activity Ideas by Connection. Many thanks to Jennifer. We recommend these documents and hope you find them helpful.

Hint: Where Planning the Transition to Kindergarten says, “Head Start” read, “Head Start, community-based preschools, and family childcare.”

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