Bridging The Kindergarten Gap

Whenever I talk to kindergarten teachers and early childhood educators, many are concerned about the widening gap between children who are ready to enter kindergarten—and those who are already severely behind. Something is wrong with this picture! Shouldn’t all kids be ready to succeed in kindergarten?

Here are some things I’ve read recently:

1. All states have guidelines about what children should know and be able to do by the time they enter kindergarten. Yet, most parents don’t know what these guidelines are.

2. Only seven states administer an assessment to show which children are ready for kindergarten. These states include Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, and Vermont.

3. Being ready for kindergarten is more than being academically ready. Research shows that behavioral, physical, and social-emotional factors are just as important as academic readiness.

I am fortunate to live in one of the seven states that assesses children before entering kindergarten. When my kids took the assessment, I was surprised when the results recommended that my one child wait another year before entering kindergarten while suggesting that my other child jump in. At the time, I was upset about the recommendation of my one child being held back. I worried that we hadn’t prepared him adequately, although I now know that kids develop at different rates—no matter how well you parent them. Ironically, it was my child who got into the gifted program that was held back one year!

What’s helpful about these assessments is that they empower parents to take the next step. As parents, we need to partner with those who can help our kids succeed. Assessing children for kindergarten (which typically takes place when children are either 3 or 4 years old) is something that helped me, and I believe all states should offer assessments. Sadly, chances are, you probably live in a state where an assessment isn’t offered. Don’t fret! There are plenty of ways you can do your part to help bridge the Kindergarten gap:

• Discover how to help kids succeed at school.
• Find out more about school readiness.


Sarah Daily, Mary Burkhauser, and Tamara Halle, “A Review of School Readiness

Practices in the States: Early Learning Guideline Assessments,”

Child Trends: Early Childhood Highlights, June 17, 2010.

Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.

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