Building Blocks: It's Kindergarten Prep Taken to a Whole New Level, Where Getting the Teachers and Parents Ready Is Just as Important as Educating Students

By Fratt, Lisa | District Administration, February 2005 | Go to article overview

Building Blocks: It's Kindergarten Prep Taken to a Whole New Level, Where Getting the Teachers and Parents Ready Is Just as Important as Educating Students


Fratt, Lisa, District Administration


There's a new school of thought about reading. It may not be big news to literacy specialists, but other educators are catching on. Literacy isn't a switch that can be flipped on in first grade. It s more like a dimmer that gradually brightens from children's early years. Preschools can lay the groundwork for lifelong literacy success.

"Nationally, we are in the middle of a big shift with educators beginning to understand the links between preschool, kindergarten and literacy development, but this isn't emphasized in many preschools," says Cathy Roller, director of research and policy for the International Reading Association.

Seattle Public Schools is one of a handful of districts in the nation that are giving private preschools a helping hand by facilitating seemingly modest changes in the preschool environment to fuel early reading skills. Instead of struggling to catch up in kindergarten and first grade, students in Seattle Early Reading First preschools start off on the right foot, says Dan Coles, the district's literacy program manager.

Started in 2003 and funded by a three-year, $3 million federal grant, the program approaches kindergarten readiness comprehensively--by improving teacher training, reshaping classrooms and curriculum, supporting parents as children's first teachers and building relationships between the district and preschools. …

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