Early Matters: Site Level Practices
Address Attendance During Transition Activities
Research and best practices confirm that the transition into kindergarten, whether from a formal preschool program or home, is significant for the child and the parents – and takes time. Research consistently shows positive results when educators address transition with intentionality. The Office of Head Start’s video Transition from a Child’s Perspective underscores the sensitivity and importance of the transition into kindergarten for families.
Orienting children to kindergarten should begin during the preschool year. Common activities include visits by preschoolers to kindergarten classrooms and the school cafeteria and visits from kindergarten teachers into preschool classrooms. Some communities have established summer transition programs especially for children who have not had the benefit of preschool. Summer transition programs typically last for several weeks and include activities for parents.
Transition activities that include a strong emphasis on attendance help parents and children connect attendance with academic success.
The ideas and resources below help increase the visibility of consistent on-time attendance and demonstrate that it is a high priority.
Distribute information about attendance as part of school registration activities. Parents, especially as they anticipate their child’s transition to kindergarten, are anxious to learn how to best prepare their children. The Attendance Handouts for families (available in English plus eight languages) encourages parents to think about attendance as they think about school.
Integrate discussions on attendance into transition activities and/or start of the year family workshops. Help adults think through the importance of consistent attendance to children’s success in school. Show the Bringing Attendance Home Video, or use the exercise Washing the Elephant.
Encourage adults to communicate about their child’s health, behavior and learning needs that might impact attendance, including daily challenges getting their child up and ready for school. Parents sometimes face overwhelming challenges trying to get their child dressed and fed and out the door to preschool and kindergarten.
Encourage families to practice their route to preschool or school whether by foot, car or public transportation. These practical steps are rarely in people’s mind without specific mention. Use My Family’s Help Bank to help parents think about what help might be needed and who might help to make consistent daily attendance possible.
Make attendance messaging visible in classrooms and hallways to reinforce the institution’s respect for on-time attendance. Use Posters and Banners in classrooms and corridors. One poster is a coloring sheet that could be sent home for children as a transition gift from their new school.
Use a friendly attendance mascot to underscore the importance of strong attendance at transition events. Young children relate enthusiastically to mascots and listen to their messages. Punctual Pete is the Attendance Works early childhood messenger. He encourages on-time attendance – with a smile! Use the downloadable Perfectly Punctual Campaign materials to engage children and families from transition forward. Parents, teachers, older children – even principals – can wear the Perfectly Punctual clock face mascot to underscore the importance of on-time attendance and congratulate on-time students.
Click here to read about educators who have successfully integrated attendance into transition activities.
Site Level Practices
Schools, preschool and districts can integrate attendance into these five site level practices that support the transition to kindergarten
District and Community Supports
Whether or not preschools and schools integrate attendance into the site level practices is heavily influenced by whether districts and other key community partners work together to put in place systems to support adoption of good practice at scale. These supports create a foundation for infusing attendance into kindergarten transition efforts.