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Teachers collaborate for kindergarten readiness

A kindergarten teacher observes activities in an early learning classroom Feb. 5, 2020 – A quick glance inside a four-year-old classroom at the Edina Early Learning Center (ELC) reveals teachers taking steps to improve the educational outcome of future learners. Four-year-old students are given a foundation on which to successfully transition to kindergarten as a result of a team of collaborators meeting every six weeks to ensure synergy with curriculum.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Early Childhood Coordinator Leah Byrd initiated meetings between preschool and kindergarten teachers with the goal of defining school readiness for students at Edina Public Schools (EPS). The work of the preschool kindergarten collaboration team has now evolved to collegial conversations regarding curriculum and assessment alignment.

“At one of our meetings we compared pre-K emergent literacy with kindergarten emergent literacy,” said Byrd. “When does a child have the concept of print and do they enter into kindergarten with some letters and sounds and are they ready to transition to words?” The learning occurring in the classroom is continuously reviewed between the two groups to ensure alignment.

The preschool kindergarten collaboration team also observe one another’s classrooms. “There are a lot of commonalities between the two classrooms,” said Byrd. “All of us want to have perspective on where the kids are coming from and where they are going.” Currently Byrd oversees ELC curriculum, and plans to consolidate curriculum with district Teaching and Learning are in the works. “Our hope is that as our meetings continue we will work with the district to put some action steps in place to help our students make a smoother transition from preschool to kindergarten,” said Deborah Carroll, kindergarten teacher at Cornelia Elementary.

In the last two years, the ELC’s population has grown from around 400 students (children and parent learners) to 775, and the staff has increased from 30 to 84. The staff at the ELC mirrors the population of the diverse student body. When a child attends preschool in the district program, there is an ability for kindergarten teachers to learn more about his or her educational background.

“We are able to receive end-of-school assessment results from the ELC staff and which is really helpful for us as teachers to prepare for who is walking through our doors in the fall,” said Carroll. “Being able to have a conversation with the staff at ELC is invaluable.”

Whether or not a student attends the ELC, educators agree about the importance of the preschool experience. “Any type of preschool experience is beneficial to our incoming kindergartners,” said Cornelia Elementary kindergarten teacher Christine Mjoen. “They need to begin learning school social skills and school readiness skills before they arrive in kindergarten, so they can have a successful experience from day one.”

Photo: Jessica Schmidt (in red), a Normandale kindergarten teacher, visits an Early Learning Center four-year-old class to see how little learners are being prepared for their next big step.

Registration for 2020-21 ELC classes is now open for Edina district residents! Non-district families may begin to register Feb. 11. Visit the ELC website.