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Key Components of a Quality Pre-Kindergarten Program

March 20, 2007

Research describes the enormous differences in the language and literacy experiences of preschoolers, and the eventual influence of these differences on reading achievement. This information makes it even more imperative that all children have access to quality pre-kindergarten programs that provide daily opportunities for language and literacy experiences that have a lasting effect on their success as readers and writers. Quality pre-kindergarten programs can make a profound difference in the readiness levels of entering kindergartners and later academic success.

A quality pre-kindergarten program is shaped by the following components:

  • Administrative Support: Board members, central office staff, and building administrators must believe that early childhood programs can and do make a difference on later academic success and remove barriers that impede the success of those programs.
  • Rich, Literacy-based Learning Environment: Children must be provided with a school experience that is playful, imaginative, inquiry-driven, and full of language.
  • Highly Qualified Teachers: Teachers must have (at a minimum) a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an endorsement in early childhood education.
  • Professional Development: Early childhood educators must be provided with meaningful professional development on a frequent basis.
  • Collaborative Environment: Professional development must be followed with support to ensure that teachers are making a connection between theory and practice, to ensure accountability for teaching behaviors and student learning, and to ensure consistency and frequency of implementation.
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Curriculum and instruction, designed specifically for preschool-age children, must be supported by current research in reading, science, and mathematics as well as research in child development.
  • Assessment: An effective pre-kindergarten program will have a strong assessment plan. One that shapes instructional decisions, monitors progress, and documents student growth.
  • Family Involvement: A strong family involvement program is key to children’s academic success.  Family involvement builds partnerships and helps care-givers extend learning at home.
  • Transition to Kindergarten: The last component to define a quality pre-kindergarten program is the development of organized pre-kindergarten to kindergarten activities to ensure a smooth transition into a more structured school environment.

Contact Dr. Edward Gronlund, (563) 344-6315 or egronlund@aea9.k12.ia.us, for more information regarding the successes of the early childhood Emerging Literacy Consortium, three year grant program at Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.

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