Kindergarten Transition Summit
Niagara University brought together local school administrators and teachers, state officials and prominent funding organizations on May 25 to discuss the most effective methods to prepare children and families for the transition from child care or preschool into kindergarten.
The Kindergarten Transition Summit, which took place in the university’s Dining Commons, was a unique experience that provided participants with the chance to hear from expert presenters and panelists, in addition to learning about opportunities to create and collaborate with kindergarten transition teams among Niagara County school districts and childcare centers.
The overall goal of the event was to build kindergarten transition teams between school districts and preschools and childcare center programs as a means to increase the school-readiness of children. It was an exceptional opportunity for early childhood leaders and policymakers to look collaboratively and analytically at Niagara County’s current transition practices, and see what research has shown to be beneficial for children starting elementary school.
Ultimately, the summit allowed stakeholders, community organizations and early childhood educators to gain a fuller understanding of the importance of the transition process, build relationships, identify current transition practices, and explore next steps within their own programs and with partners in the community.
Among the summit’s 96 attendees were representatives from eight Niagara County school districts, including school superintendents, principals, kindergarten teachers and preschool teachers, as well as area childcare center owners and directors.
One of the event’s presentations was given by Patricia Persell, collaboration director for the New York State Head Start Collaboration Office and co-chair of the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. Persell discussed the importance of interagency partnerships in supporting the educational needs of young children.
Participants also learned more about Niagara University’s early childhood initiatives namely, Help Me Grow Western New York from Director Lynn Pullano as well as a training opportunity from the New York State Pyramid Model Master Trainer and owner at ECE Solutions Inc., Marilyn Ballard.
A panel discussion addressed the scope of transition practices being undertaken throughout Niagara County. It included panelists from the Niagara Falls and Lockport city school districts, the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, among others.
After the summit it was abundantly clear how passionate, optimistic and willing individuals in Niagara County’s early childhood community are to assist children and families through such an important time. Through a post-summit feedback questionnaire, it was shown that over half of the participants feel the summit deepened their knowledge of what systemic and integrated transitions to kindergarten look like and assisted in the learning process of how to strengthen current transition practices.