Transitioning to Kindergarten: A Toolkit for Early Childhood Educators

As each new school year begins, adults who work with children in the year before kindergarten have much to think about. Research in recent years highlights the importance of early education, and we all want to give children educational and social experiences throughout the pre-kindergarten years that will give them the best possible start. What you might not realize, however, is that the start of the pre-kindergarten year is also the perfect time to begin thinking about kindergarten.

Too often, preparation for kindergarten does not begin until a month or two just before kindergarten begins. However, transition to kindergarten is a process that is most successful when it is carefully planned out over the entire pre-kindergarten year. Whether a child is in preschool, child care or spending time with parents or caregivers at home, the transition to kindergarten can be a stressful time for parents, educators and children.

This toolkit, created by the AFT and the National Center for Learning Disabilities, includes tools and materials that will help you implement strategies to facilitate this process and enhance children’s transition to kindergarten. View this video to learn how educators and parents are using T2K tools. Whether you are a school administrator, early childhood professional, child care provider or kindergarten teacher, you will find practical and easy-to-use tools, materials to pass along to parents, and resources and guides to steer you through the process. You can use everything in this toolkit, or just pick a few pieces that will be most helpful for your particular situation.

  • School Readiness
    How do you know if a child is ready for kindergarten? The time that you spend with a child every day can give you lots of information about how he or she is progressing. This section contains a helpful guide on creating an "Early Learning Passport," a kindergarten readiness indicator checklist, an observation and activity guide, and a drawing and writing sample template.    
  • Get Ready to Read!
    The Get Ready to Read! Screening Tool is intended to provide early childhood professionals and parents with a "snapshot" of where a child is on the path to developing important early literacy skills. This section includes the screening tool, as well as instructions on how to use the tool and how to score a child's answers. Also included are 36 engaging, skill-building activities for use in group settings.
    • Visit the Get Ready to Read! online interactive screening tool
    • Transitioning to Kindergarten Booklist
      The AFT Early Childhood Education Cadre has recommended some of their favorite books. Each booklist pairs a set of learning activities (included in this section of the toolkit) with books that explore similar ideas and skills. Many of the titles are available through First Book
    • Transitioning to Kindergarten Multicultural Booklist
      This booklist contains book recommendations available in English and Spanish. Also including selections from Colorín Colorado, this booklist encompasses children’s stories and characters from a rich array of cultures. Each booklist in this guide pairs a set of learning activities (included in this section of the toolkit) from the “Transitioning to Kindergarten” toolkit with books that explore similar ideas and skills. Many of the titles are available through First Book.
  • For Parents
    This section guides you through the process of sharing what you know about your child with the kindergarten teacher who will be working with your child in the new school year. It gives you the opportunity to pass on important information about your child’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and any concerns that you may have. If your child is receiving any special services, the information that you provide here can help to ensure that those services continue without gaps into the new school year. Also included are 36 engaging, skill-building activities for you to try at home.
  • Para Los Padres
    Este cuadernillo le servirá de guía para transmitir lo que usted conoce acerca de su hijo al maestro de jardín infantil que trabajará con el niño en el nuevo año escolar. Es la oportunidad para que usted comparta información importante sobre lo que le gusta y no le gusta al niño, los puntos fuertes y débiles del niño, y cualquier otra preocupación que usted tenga. Si su niño recibe atención especial, la información que aquí se proporciona servirá para asegurar que esos mismos servicios continúen sin interrupción durante el nuevo año escolar. Las siguientes páginas contienen 36 actividades para el desarrollo de las destrezas de ¡Prepárate para leer! Estas actividades son divertidas, atractivas, actividades de lectoescritura temprana amenas para los niños y que usted puede usarlas en casa.
  • Other Resources
    There are many free resources available on the internet about transitioning to kindergarten. Some provide ideas for introducing children to new experiences at home and in the community. Others include information about research and best practice in early childhood education. This section contains some helpful resources on the Web for parents, educators and child care providers.
  • Training Guidelines
    This section of the Toolkit is for people who will be conducting workshops for early childhood educators on how to use this Toolkit. Before conducting a training workshop, make sure to become very familiar with both the Toolkit and the accompanying Training Guidelines PowerPoint presentation. Feel free to customize this guide for your particular group.