At The Grove School, our number one commitment is to prepare your child for future academic success through a hands-on, integrated curriculum and learning community. School readiness is at the center of that environment. But what does “school readiness” really mean?
Generally, it’s a term that refers to a set of skills and abilities a child should possess before entering kindergarten.
But more specifically, I like this definition from scientists and early education professors K. Maxwell and R.M. Clifford in their Research in Review: School Readiness Assessment–
“School readiness involves more than just children. In the broadest sense, it’s about children, families, early environments, schools, and communities. Children are not innately ready or not ready for school. Their skills and development are strongly influenced by their families and through their interactions with other people and environments before coming to school. “
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) also has an excellent position paper that details important considerations when preparing children for school and preparing schools for children. Three important points covered in the statement include:
1. Giving children deserve access to opportunities that promote school success.
2. Recognizing and supporting children’s individual differences.
3. The importance of establishing reasonable and appropriate expectations for what children should be able to do when they enter school.
Additional highlights from the NAEYC School Readiness position paper follow (see the links below for PDFs of both the summary and full position papers):
Readiness is more than basic knowledge of language and math, important as these are. Readiness expectations should include all areas: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional competence as well as positive attitudes toward learning.
Young children develop in different ways and at different rates. Readiness does not happen at the same time or in the same way for all children. For example, one child may develop language skills rapidly while being slower to gain social competence. Definitions of readiness must consider these variations.
A school is ready if the curriculum in kindergarten and the early grades builds on prior learning. In early childhood and beyond, skills are most effectively learned and practiced when embedded in meaningful experiences. Even for children who enter school without having mastered specific skills, curriculum should include child-initiated as well as teacher-supported activities, and should emphasize hands-on, integrated learning.
The school must take into account individual differences in language, culture, and prior experience. Children whose experiences differ from those of the school they enter may be viewed as less ready. Effective kindergarten-primary programs meet children where they are and take extra care to help make meaningful connections with each child’s home, culture, and community.
Teachers must know how to teach young children and have the resources to do so. Ready schools need kindergarten and primary grade teachers who have professional preparation in child development and early education. Class sizes are small enough to meet children’s individual learning needs. Classroom equipment and materials support children’s active, thoughtful engagement with learning.
Our curriculum and school community address these issues head on. From the types of activities and structure of our school day to the credentials of our teachers and how we cultivate community, we’ve thought deeply about to how to best prepare each child for a successful academic future.