The early years of a child’s life are crucial in creating a foundation for life-long learning and success. The Minnesota Department of Education is committed to ensuring all children’s readiness for school by providing services and supports to teachers, administrators and other professionals. Services and supports include: professional learning, early learning standards and assessment, professional knowledge and competencies, early learning scholarships and prekindergarten through grade 3 alignment.
Below is an excerpt from Minnesota’s School Readiness definition to better understand children’s readiness in the context of the complex systems in which they live.
Expectations for children as they enter kindergarten
According to Minnesota statute, a child is ready for kindergarten when he/she:
- Is at least 5 years of age by September 1 of the child’s enrollment year (Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.20).
- Has received early childhood screening (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.17).
- Has received medically acceptable immunizations (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.15).
This definition may be used to help programs better understand children’s readiness or serve as the foundation for World’s Best Workforce planning related to school readiness goals (Goal #1).
Schools must be prepared to support and respond to all children’s individual needs because children arrive at kindergarten with a wide range of experiences and competencies. Supporting readiness that is inclusive of children’s’ skills and knowledge at kindergarten entry can inform future program and district planning and teaching.
When a child arrives at kindergarten he or she will exhibit his/her knowledge and skills across multiple learning areas as described in learning and academic standards. These include social and emotional, math/science/social studies (cognitive), physical, the arts, and language/literacy/communication domains. How each child develops and demonstrates skills in each learning area is different.
Opportunities for learning experiences through family and early care and education settings prior to kindergarten increase a child’s ability to exhibit age-appropriate skills and behaviors.
Expectations at kindergarten entry are spelled out more fully in the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards. Examples of knowledge and skills listed in the standards are below. This list is meant only to illustrate examples of children’s development and is not intended to be a checklist or assessment of children’s skills.
School Readiness Program
School Readiness is a public school program for children ages 3 and 4. The purpose of the program is to prepare children to enter kindergarten.
School Readiness programs must meet certain requirements, including:
- Assessing each child's cognitive and language skills with a comprehensive child assessment instrument when the child enters and again before the child leaves the program to improve program planning and implementation, communicate with parents, and promote kindergarten readiness.
- Providing comprehensive program content and intentional instructional practice aligned with the state early childhood learning guidelines and kindergarten standards and based on early childhood research and professional practice that is focused on children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills and development and prepares children for the transition to kindergarten, including early literacy and language skills.
- Coordinating appropriate kindergarten transition with parents and kindergarten teachers.
- Involving parents in program planning and decision making.
- Coordinating with relevant community-based services.
- Cooperating with adult basic education programs and other adult literacy programs.
- Ensuring staff-child ratios of 1:10 and maximum group size of 20 children with the first staff required to be a teacher.
- Having teachers knowledgeable in early childhood curriculum content, assessment, native and English language development programs, and instruction.
School Readiness programs must include a biennial plan in the district's World's Best Workforce plan, describing how their School Readiness program meets the program requirements listed above.
A district must adopt a sliding fee schedule based on a family's income but must waive a fee for a participant unable to pay. School districts must use School Readiness aid for eligible children. Children who do not meet the eligibility requirements may participate on a fee-for-service basis.
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