20
THINKING IT THROUGH
ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ FEDERATION OF ONTARIO
Transition to Kindergarten
Entry to school represents a major threshold
in a child’s life. It marks an important
transition into the formal education system
at a critical age in early child development.
Whether the child has remained at home
until starting school or has participated in
preschool programs, planning entry to school
can support his or her long-term success. It can
have a positive influence on a child’s lifelong
attitude towards school and on the child’s
development of literacy and numeracy skills.25
In Successful Kindergarten Transition (2003),
Robert Pianta and Marcia Kraft-Sayre, present a
developmental model of transition which focuses
on the relationships between the child, educator,
family, and community across time.26 According
to Pianta and Kraft-Sayre, the following
practices can help ensure successful transition to
kindergarten:
Foster relationships as resources.
• Promote continuity from preschool to
kindergarten.
• Focus on family strengths.
• Tailor practices to individual needs.
• Form collaborative relationships.27
It is impossible to provide a “one size fits all”
model to guide a school’s transition process.
There are many models across the province,
and each school’s decision is shaped by its
community, policy for staggered entry, and
registration procedures. It would be helpful
to consult the Ministry of Education resource
document, Planning Entry to School (2003), for
more information and samples of models from
school boards across the province.
However, it should be noted that the transition is
not a one-time event. It is a process that begins
by planning with relevant partners and takes
place over time.
Questions to consider when planning entry to
school:
Who needs to be involved in the planning?
(Administrator, administrative assistant,
childcare, parent?)
• What needs to be communicated and by
when? (Define process for registration,
including dates and times.)
• What will be the process for gathering
information about the children before they
enter school?
• What strategies will be used to communicate
information?
• What do parents want to know? What are
the key messages?
• What events will be planned? Who should
be involved? What is the best time to hold
these events so families can attend?
• What resources will be needed?
• What will be the format for the events?
• When will placement occur, how and when
will parents be informed?
Questions to consider when planning
kindergarten registration:
For some families, kindergarten registration is
the first introduction to the school and to the
school system. It may be the first introduction
to the school system in Canada for others. It
is a significant event for families, as well as for
the children. It is important for the school to
make all families feel welcome and to establish a
foundation for a positive relationship.
When will registration occur?
What time is best for parents? (Will there
be appointments or a first-come, first-serve
approach?)
Who will be involved in the actual
registration process?
Will kindergarten educators need to be
released? Will translators be needed?
Who will greet the parents?

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TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOM
Planning for Children with Special Needs
One of the first steps when planning for the entry
of children with special needs is to communicate
with childcare centres, programs, and agencies
which are involved with the children and their
families. It is important to register the children
and gather as much pertinent information as
possible. It is especially critical to attend to the
questions, concerns, and goals of families for their
children. In this way, the school and the classroom
educator can prepare a plan, even before the first
day, to meet the needs of the child. There could
be safety issues, a need for assistive devices, and
particular learning goals that may have to be
addressed before school begins. As well, parents
may need support.
Kindergarten Orientation
A spring orientation session is a popular event to
prepare kindergarten families for the transition
to school in the fall, and to share information well
ahead of time.
Questions to consider when planning a spring
orientation include the following:
What format will be most engaging for the
school community? Format choices may
include: question and answer, meeting
in small groups, visual presentations
with photos or video of children engaged
What documents will parents need to
bring with them and how will this be
communicated?
What information will be available for
parents? What will need to be translated?
What else will occur at this time? (Health
screening, hearing assessments, gathering
developmental history information?)
Who else needs to receive information
about registration? (Child cares, parenting
programs, agencies involved with children
with special needs?)
Where will registration take place and how
can this space be made inviting for families?
What activities will be available for the
children? (Will there be an area for children
to enjoy kindergarten type activities, such
as looking at books, doing puzzles, drawing,
etc.?)
Will there be refreshments?
What will parents and children take home
with them? (A principal of a small school has
his picture taken with each child to be sent
home with their starting date letter. Another
school creates a bag of materials, including
a book, paper, plastic models, and magnetic
letters.)
Thinking It Through
• How do families see themselves reflected in the school/in my classroom?
• How effective is the school’s plan for transition to kindergarten? What needs to be changed
or improved?
• How effectively do I communicate with parents? What might be improved?
• Do I believe that the school needs to be ‘ready’ for the child? If so, what is the evidence that
my classroom and the school is ‘ready’ for the child?
• Which partnerships need to be fostered or strengthened?
• How does my school promote parent involvement? What are some areas that might be
developed?

22
THINKING IT THROUGH
ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ FEDERATION OF ONTARIO
in kindergarten activities, or organized
activities related to kindergarten
programming.
Will the event include a social component?
What questions do you anticipate that
parents will have about kindergarten? How
will these be communicated and answered?
Will the orientation include a tour of the
classrooms and the school?
Some schools provide hands-on sessions for families
through partnering with the Learning Partnership’s
Welcome to Kindergarten Program. Information
is available on The Learning Partnership website.
www.thelearningpartnership.ca.
The following is a list of strategies to promote
parent, family, and community engagement at
your school’s kindergarten orientation:
To maximize parent participation, consider
calling families to remind them of the date
and time, (perhaps this could be done by
parent volunteers).
Eliminate barriers for parents to attend
the session by adjusting the orientation
to meet the needs of the community.
(Some communities may need to have
the orientation in the evening. Providing
childcare or including younger children
in the session may increase participation
and make families feel more welcome, as
would providing transport to the school and
back from community centres or places of
worship, etc. Families may appreciate having
translators or translated materials available.)
Invite the local public librarian to attend
to offer information about children’s
programming and help families apply for
library cards.
Invite the supervisor from the local childcare
or preschool to attend to share information
with families and help families make the
transition more seamless from preschool to
school.
Invite a Public Health Nurse to attend to
distribute Nippissing Developmental Screens
(NDDS) and answer questions about child
development.
• Invite preschool and/or school board speech
and language pathologists to attend to
answer questions, or informally screen
children if appropriate.
Invite local Ontario Early Years or other
community parenting supports to attend to
share information with families.
Visits to Kindergarten Class
It is helpful for children and their families to visit
the kindergarten classroom before the first day of
school in September. These visits may be planned
during kindergarten orientation or towards the
end of the school year. With creative planning,
some schools manage to invite all families to see
the classroom in action. Planning also needs to
include children from childcare centres whose
parents may not be able to visit.
Many educators like to connect with children
personally before the first day, either by phone
or by mail. The educator may ask the children to
bring a memento on their first day (a photo of
their family, or something with their name on it)
or tell the children what they might do or see on
day one. (For example, one educator wrote that
her pet birds would be visiting.)
“Ready” for School: School Readiness and
Transition to Kindergarten
Some researchers have explored whether a child’s
readiness for kindergarten is a contributing factor
to a successful transition to school. “Readiness
for school learning is distinguished from skill
performance. It can be a meaningful approach
to describe a suite of cognitive and social skills,
knowledge and dispositions, and personal
experiences that children bring when they enter
Grade 1.” 28

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TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOM
While it is important to consider whether the child
is ready, it is also important to determine if the
school is ready to receive the early learner. In the
article “Ready or Not, Here we Come: What it Means
to be a Ready School” (2007), Dowker, Schweinhart,
and Daniel-Echols share the concept of a “ready
school” and outline strategies to ensure that a
school is “ready” to welcome the kindergarten
children into its classrooms. The following
analysis, provided by the High/Scope Educational
Research Foundation (2006), provides questions
to determine the readiness of the school:
Does the principal communicate a clear
vision for the school - a vision that is
committed to the success of every child?
Are parents of incoming children contacted
about registration and school entry three or
more months before the start of school?
Do kindergarten educators communicate
with preschool/childcare staff about children
and curriculum on an ongoing basis?
Do classrooms have a variety of manipulative
materials and supplies for art, building,
dramatic play, and hands-on learning?
Are procedures in place for monitoring
the implementation of all instructional
materials/methods?
Does the school promote community
linkages by making, and following up on,
appropriate referrals of children and families
to social services and health agencies?
Do classroom activities provide accurate,
practical, and respectful information
regarding peoples’ cultural backgrounds and
experiences?
Does the school employ improvement
strategies that are based on assessment
of the quality of the classroom, as well as
children’s progress?29
Learning at home
“The foundations of language and literacy
development begin to be established at birth
and continue to be built through interaction and
communication with adults and other children
at home, in child care, in the community and at
school.”30
Learning begins at birth. While learning
experiences vary from home to home, all families
influence the development of their young learners.
When children enter the school system, they are
introduced to a second sphere of influence. Two-
way communication and collaboration between
these two worlds supports and extends young
children’s growth and development. By connecting
the school with Ontario Early Years Centres, Family
Literacy Centres, and other parenting supports that
promote early learning, kindergarten educators
can increase the points of contact for families and
their access to information and resources.
Learning at home can be supported in a number
of ways. Information about what is happening at
school can be used to develop a plan to extend
learning at home, and take-home activities can
be provided.
Making a Plan
As part of the formal process of communicating
about a child’s progress, there is an opportunity
to talk about how the child is being supported at
school, and to agree on ways that the child might
also be supported at home. Informally, educators
may seek parent input on the learning strategies
used in the home to try and build consistency
between home and school.
It must be remembered that many parents lead
busy, demanding, stressful lives. Consideration
must be given to how much extra may be expected
from them. See Appendices 6 and 7 for suggested
connections.

24
THINKING IT THROUGH
ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ FEDERATION OF ONTARIO
Conclusion
This resource Thinking It Through: Teaching and
Learning in the Kindergarten Classroom has been
written to support a play-based, child-centered
curriculum for young learners. Each chapter has
been developed to reflect an important aspect of
the successful implementation of this curriculum
and to make certain that high expectations are an
important aspect of that planning. The research
behind the theories forming the basis of this
resource are current and considered to be the
most effective way to provide a strong beginning
to kindergarten learners.