Early Childhood Literacy
Age of Learning, Inc. released the results of a nationwide kindergarten preparedness survey (Nov 2011) to coincide with the opening of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) annual conference. The survey, conducted with more than 500 kindergarten teachers across the country, reveals that America’s kindergarten teachers believe most young children are unprepared for school when they enter kindergarten, and veteran kindergarten teachers believe that this situation is deteriorating.
National Kindergarten Preparedness Survey Results
Special Report to Parents: Preparing for Kindergarten
When asked, “On average, how well prepared academically would you say children are when they first enter your kindergarten classroom?” two-thirds of teachers (66 percent) stated that students were only somewhat or not at all prepared, and only 6 percent felt that students were very well prepared academically.
According to the teachers who were surveyed, children entering kindergarten are weakest academically in their knowledge of the alphabet and phonics, with two-thirds of teachers reporting that the majority of children do not know their alphabet when they enter kindergarten.
Though many early learning researchers cite the crucial importance of a child’s oral language development in relation to future academic success in reading and other subjects, less than 9 percent of responding teachers described the oral language skills of entering students as “very good.”
Many early childhood education experts advocate for preschool and pre-k programs that better prepare children for kindergarten. Of the kindergarten teachers who participated in this survey, 95 percent agreed that preschool attendance is, in fact, “beneficial” with most of those (75 percent of all respondents) believing it is “very beneficial.”
Teachers were also asked about the value of technology in preparing children for kindergarten.
Seventy-seven percent (77 percent) of respondents view technology as “very useful” or “useful” in this respect. Specific benefits of technology cited most often were engagement, helping children learn the ABC’s, educational games, number recognition, and interactive learning.
Kindergarten teachers have several recommendations regarding what parents should do to prepare children for entering kindergarten, including the following:
- Actively participate in your child’s education with pre-reading and reading activities, such as reading books together and practicing the alphabet.
- Expose children to new experiences and talk with them about those experiences in order to improve their ability to speak and understand oral language and increase vocabulary.
- Practice identifying numbers and counting with both verbal and written activities.
- Work with children to identify shapes, colors, and objects in the world around them.
- Place children in social settings with other young children so that they can learn together while they also develop manners and the ability to share and be respectful.