Throughout our lives “first days” are met with much anticipation, excitement, and sometimes trepidation. The first day of school for kindergarten students is no different. Children adapt to a new school, new teachers, and new friends. Each year over 1,300 new students enter the Stamford Public School (SPS) district.
Kindergarten teachers play an important role in helping these students have a positive classroom experience, igniting their lifelong love of learning. Over the last few weeks, Stamford Public Schools’ (SPS) teachers have been diligently preparing for school re-openings in the hybrid model. The Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF), along with Stamford’s Cradle 2 Career, have been assisting SPS teachers in their planning.
Through their Kindergarten Readiness Campaign, these organizations have worked together throughout the summer to help families navigate community and school district resources to ensure their children successfully transition into kindergarten.
This summer, SPEF and SPS hosted two Kindergarten Readiness Fairs to help parents get the in-person support needed for enrolling their children in Kindergarten. These socially distanced fairs provided parents with the ability to work on Kindergarten registration forms, hand in documents to onsite staff, and register their children for physicals at a school-based health center. While there, students entering kindergarten took the Preschool Early Literacy Indicator (PELI) Assessment, which SPEF facilitated through a grant from a local corporate partner. It identifies a child’s pre-literacy and oral language skills. This assessment provides teachers the opportunity to get to know their students’ skills prior to the first day, helping them gain an understanding of the type of instruction needed for each specific child. 175 children, along with their families, attended the K-Readiness Fairs during a pre-assigned timeslot. SPEF-branded masks and toys from Scholastic were distributed to children at the Fairs.
For those not attending the Fairs this summer, incoming kindergarteners also had the opportunity to complete the PELI assessments virtually or in an open-air setting. Last year 85% of incoming kindergarteners completed the assessment. This summer over 89% of students completed the assessment. This increase in number means that kindergarten teachers will have a better understanding of student needs and can create instructional planning around those results. The eventual goal is to have 100% of incoming kindergarteners complete the PELI assessment.
Wrapping up the K-Readiness campaign, on Thursday, August 20th SPEF, SPS, and Stamford Cradle 2 Career hosted a virtual Student Insight Day for kindergarten teachers to review the results from the PELI assessments. The teachers also reviewed results from the Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Summary (PKTS), which measures a child’s social-emotional learning, cognition, language, literacy, numeracy, gross motor, and fine motor skills. Over 40 kindergarten teachers across the district joined in this virtual meeting to discuss the assessment results and work in teams to create a set of goals for their upcoming fall instruction.
“With the ever-changing climate of instruction this fall, it is important that teachers are as prepared as possible to meet the needs of their incoming students,” said SPEF Director of Programming Lindsay Wyman. “The combined efforts of everyone involved in this summer’s Kindergarten Readiness Campaign will provide students, families, and teachers with resources for making the transition into public school as smooth as possible.”
About SPEF: Founded in 1996, the mission of the Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF) is to deliver educational programs and resources that elevate student, educator, and parent success by bridging the gap between needs in the Stamford Public Schools and resources in our community. Through its work, the non-profit agency strives for each and every student in the Stamford Public Schools to graduate high school prepared and inspired to be a productive member of society. For further information, visit www.spefct.org.