Early childhood educators enrich skills to give preschoolers a positive start
Three schools are spearheading a pilot program in Brooklyn, N.Y., aimed at taking “Transitioning to Kindergarten,” a toolkit co-created by the AFT and the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and making it the newest resource for enriching the home-school connection, promoting dialogue across grade levels and giving every child a personal bridge from early learning into kindergarten.
Paraprofessionals, teachers, administrators and parents at PS 156, PS 158 and PS 184 are engaged in the effort. The educators began working with Transitioning to Kindergarten during training in January and spent the following weeks looking for ways to test the toolkit and report back to the AFT on how educators can incorporate it into their practice. The effort is supported by the United Federation of Teachers, the AFT and partners like First Book, which is donating children’s books.
“The more tools in our toolkit, the better,” says UFT Vice President Karen Alford, who helped lead early rounds of training. Alford says the initiative complements new developments in New York City, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s move to extend pre-K to 31,000 students, as well as new opportunities for professional growth in a union-negotiated contract that educators overwhelmingly ratified late last year.
There are many strengths in the pilot program, particularly when it comes to getting everyone on the same page. It focuses on student growth—both at home and at school—and offers ways for educators and parents to share what they’ve observed about every child.
“This is a great book,” PS 156 parent coordinator Carolyn Smith says of “Getting to Know My Child.” The component helps early educators work with the home to create a document that showcases each student’s interests and strengths—something the child can give to his or her kindergarten teacher on the first day as a valuable bridge between home and school.
“So far, I’m loving it,” says PSRP Etharis Kaiasoulis of PS 156. “This looks like a very good tool, and it’s going to tell us a lot.”