Program staff play a vital role in supporting the new relationship between receiving school staff and families. Good coordination and data sharing between programs and receiving schools can lead to more successful transitions for children and families. This can happen effectively in person or through virtual meetings.
Sharing Data About Individual Children's Progress
Staff and families can begin by sharing thoughts and perspectives about the upcoming transition. They can plan for the kind of data to share about individual children with receiving schools, with parental permission. The most useful data paints the picture of children's development and learning, and the families' experience supporting their child's education during the program year. Staff can compile data to emphasize areas of strength and areas of opportunity for progress. For example, data can include children's identified disabilities or delays to ensure a smooth transition.
Practice Scenario and Strategies
Read about how one early childhood team works together to launch the conversation about kindergarten during a virtual midyear family conference. Explore the scenario and reflect on opportunities to build relationships with individual families to introduce the process of transitioning to kindergarten.
Sarita, Rodney, and their 4-year-old son, Harvey, are feeling settled in their new community and the Head Start program. Kim, Harvey’s teacher, and Carole, the program’s family advocate, have scheduled a virtual midyear conference with Sarita and Rodney to discuss Harvey’s progress and share ongoing assessment data.
At the conference, Kim shares Harvey’s progress on developmental markers in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. Carole reviews a family goal Rodney set in October to help Harvey be ready for the transition to kindergarten.
Kim: Welcome, Rodney and Sarita! We are so glad that we could find a conference time that works with your schedule.
Sarita: Thank you for being flexible with my work schedule. You both know how important it is to us to help Harvey get ready for the big move to kindergarten next year.
Kim: We value your partnership. We appreciate that you want to find activities at home to support Harvey's progress. We have seen growth in Harvey's understanding of numbers and objects. He is a big help when we take attendance. He helps count who is with us at circle time.
Rodney: I am glad to hear that! Harvey and I do a lot of math games at home. We cook together, and he counts the ingredients. Harvey’s favorite number is five because he will turn 5 next month.
Carole: It’s so helpful to know how you are reinforcing what he is learning in the classroom. All this information is useful data to share with Harvey’s future elementary school. What information would you like us to be sure to share?
Sarita: I would love for them to know how Rodney builds on what Harvey is learning at school. He works hard to make sure Harvey is learning what he needs to know.
Carole: Sure, I will make a note. Is there anything else that you would like to think about to help Harvey get ready for kindergarten?
Rodney: We were wondering how Harvey’s progress compares to other children in his classroom.
Carole: Great question. I can share some of the data about how children in the classroom are progressing. We are excited about Harvey and other children’s progress toward our learning goals.
Carole shares details about how Harvey’s progress compares with his peers’. At the end of the meeting, Carole tells Rodney and Sarita about an upcoming opportunity for kindergarten teachers to meet with families. This meeting will be a great time for Rodney and Sarita to learn about the kindergarten curriculum, learning goals, and partnership with families.
Consider your role in the transition to kindergarten. How can you share data about children’s progress, even while working remotely, to facilitate a smooth transition?
- Ensure policies, systems, supports, and resources are in place to facilitate planning and collaboration for seamless transitions for children and families, including sharing of ongoing child assessment data with families.
- Ensure community and program data are used to inform goal setting, five-year planning, and continuous improvement to support families’ transitions to new learning settings.
- Develop partnerships with local public health departments, health centers, and community wellness agencies to ensure continuity of services that promote family and child well-being, including physical and mental health.
- Develop data sharing agreements to facilitate the transition for children and families to kindergarten and to track children’s progress and learning in kindergarten through third grade.
- Throughout the program year, and even while working remotely, keep open channels of communication with families to share accurate developmental and learning approaches and ongoing assessment data.
- Learn from families about children's experiences inside and outside of the program to understand how to build on the child’s strengths and to offer support as needed. For example, host a family meeting for parents to create a picture board of the activities their child likes to do at home and outside of school. Share this board with teachers at the receiving school to help the transition and learning at school.
- Discuss with families what data to share with or gather from the receiving school. Once done, meet with receiving school staff to share agreed-upon data about transitioning children, and inform families of the information shared.
- Communicate with families about the child’s health information. Decide with families which information to share with the receiving school. For example, if the child has a health care or learning need, staff and parents could inform the nurse, health staff, or special education director.
- Collaborate with parent leaders and receiving schools to learn what families might expect of K–12 instruction and to share parent expectations.
- Participate in Policy Council meetings and other program events to learn about the transition to kindergarten and to help parents plan.
- Communicate regularly with program staff about your thoughts and ideas about your child’s transition to kindergarten.
- Prepare to share information with program and receiving school staff, including:
- What are your child’s strengths and needs? What are your goals as a family?
- Does your child have allergies, medications, or a disability or delay?
- What languages are spoken in your home or family?
- How long has your child been in Head Start? What is his or her daily and yearly schedule in the program?
- How does your child spend time in and out of the classroom? During summers?
- Explore the Leaders in School Readiness collection of resources to learn strategies for collaborating with elementary schools.
- Use the Engaging Community Partners to Strengthen Family Services series resources to guide your program’s efforts to strengthen child and family outcomes.
- Watch Leaders Supporting the Transition to Kindergarten to learn about Head Start parents' hopes for their children as they prepare for the move to kindergarten.
- Explore the Family Engagement and Transition to Kindergarten collection of resources and videos to enhance your knowledge about the importance of engaging families and partnering with them in the transition to kindergarten.
- Explore Enhance Parents’ Advocacy and Leadership Skills resources to learn ways to support parents as advocates and leaders in your program and at home.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Program Option: Center-Based Option
Age Group: Preschoolers
Last Updated: September 1, 2023