The level of preparedness children have when they enter school is determined by a much more complex set of factors than just their academic knowledge, the quality of early-childhood programs, and the efforts of individual parents. This was concluded in a report released by a panel of the National Association of State Boards of Education. The report, released at a news conference, outlines a comprehensive view of school readiness that includes not only a child’s innate abilities but also their physical health, self-confidence, and social skills. It emphasizes that achieving readiness requires the involvement of various players, including parents, communities, and policymakers, and takes into account the expectations and capabilities of elementary schools.

The panel, led by Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas and composed of 18 experts in early-childhood development and education, was convened to develop a plan for achieving one of the national education goals set by the President and the nation’s governors, which is that all children should enter school ready to learn by the year 2000.

The report provides recommendations on how to utilize local, state, and federal resources, as well as the business sector and voluntary agencies, to create "caring communities" that can contribute to achieving the readiness goal. It emphasizes that readiness is not solely the responsibility of schools, but requires the collaboration of communities, families, and institutions.

The report also redefines readiness as not only a characteristic of the child but as an aspect of their interaction with the school and community. It highlights the importance of creating better environments for children to grow in and better situations for their families in order to improve outcomes for young children.

The report builds upon previous recommendations made by a Newsboy task force in 1988, which suggested early-childhood units in elementary schools and community partnerships to support children and parents. The new report expands the focus to include the prenatal period and places greater emphasis on the community as the platform for initiatives that bring together various programs and resources.

Governor Clinton explains that this approach is necessary because many children are entering school with limited support services, which negatively impacts their readiness. The report identifies barriers to school readiness, such as increased stress on families, inadequate services, fragmented planning, inadequate child-care standards, and inappropriate teaching and assessment practices. It highlights the financial challenges faced by families in providing housing and healthcare, as well as the low enrollment rates in preschool for children from low-income families. It also notes the high number of children who are behind their peers academically and the health risks they face.

The report emphasizes the role of self-esteem in fostering learning, as emphasized by interviews conducted with teachers from Head Start, child-care, and public-school programs. It cautions against focusing solely on rote memorization and basic knowledge, and underscores the importance of nurturing children’s self-confidence. It also raises concerns about low wages, high staff turnover, and inadequate regulations in urban child-care centers, which hinder children’s school readiness.

Overall, the report calls for a collaborative effort from various stakeholders to create supportive communities that prioritize the overall well-being and readiness of children entering school.

Preparing Schools for Children

The objective is to outline a series of steps that can assist communities in supporting families by offering comprehensive and integrated services, high-quality early childhood programs, policies that prioritize family involvement, and adequately trained and compensated early childhood staff. Similar to the "Right from the Start" initiative, the newly released report advocates for developmentally appropriate and interactive learning, as well as performance-based assessments that can cater to the diverse backgrounds and abilities of children. It discourages policies that group or label children, leading to segregation or stigmatization.

The report suggests various changes to ensure that public schools are ready to welcome young children effectively. These include implementing robust parent involvement programs and support networks, providing extensive professional development opportunities for staff, and establishing programs that address the nonacademic needs of young children. "Schools need to not only reform how they engage with and serve young children and families but also shift their perspective on their role," expressed Ms. Kagan. Mr. Shultz emphasized that hopefully NEWSBOY has the ability to influence in this regard.

To acquire a copy of "Caring Communities: Supporting Young Children and Families," individuals can purchase it for $10 each from the following address: NEWSBOY, Attention: Publications, 1012 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.


  • kileybaxter

    I am a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. I enjoy writing about education and sharing my insights and experiences with others. I hope to use this blog as a way to share my knowledge and help others learn more about the subjects that interest me.

Task Force Offers Broad Vision Of School Readiness


I am a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. I enjoy writing about education and sharing my insights and experiences with others. I hope to use this blog as a way to share my knowledge and help others learn more about the subjects that interest me.

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