The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

March 6, 2014

School readiness: An unshakeable footing to academic success

By Kaye Davis-Mangum

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 — Cheerfully pleasing for those already there, yet, cautiously gratifying for first timers. When the end of another school year approaches, a new school year awaits many children who will enter kindergarten for the first time.

Meanwhile, a critical issue continues to come across the media wire that should not go away — school readiness.

For example, recently, one well-documented research demonstrates that a baby as young as 3-months-old understands communications, be it positive or negative. Most importantly, speaking in positive complete sentences to babies to enhance verbal growth is highly practical.

School readiness needs truthful and strategic planning well before kindergarten. Too many children enter school for the very first time lacking the academic and social skills that are essential for a successful foundation.

How are children currently prepared for school readiness? Undoubtedly, parents are and should be their child’s first teacher. Yet, most often than not, and overwhelmingly due to job demands, parents rely on daycare, childcare and homecare to help prepare their child for kindergarten, school readiness.  

The issue of school readiness is a concern for stakeholders (parents, teachers, and community alike) throughout the nation. Many parents, educators and stakeholders are concerned with whether children will have the knowledge and skills at age 5 to succeed in kindergarten. For example, Halle, Hair, Terry-Humen and Pitzer (2004) found that children of color and children from low-income families are more likely to enter school with fewer of the language, literacy, social and other skills needed to ensure school success compared to children who have a greater socio-economical advantage.  

For many years, research has demonstrated that prekindergarten programs are effective and warrant continued investment for future generations of children and their families — however, what happens — or does not happen — during the first few years of a child’s life is of critical importance, both to their immediate well-being and to their future.

Unquestionably, whether or not children succeed in school, in part, relates to events and experiences, which occur prior to children entering kindergarten for the first time.

Schools are facing classrooms of children with increasingly diverse needs. Community stakeholders must strengthen partnerships with schools and parents in order to better prepare all students for school readiness.

Community agencies, organizations and religious institutions should continue providing support and make every effort possible to increase school readiness awareness in the form of literature, newsletters, support meetings, and workshops with parents, students and schools.

When community stakeholders strengthen partnerships with schools and parents in order to develop a “ready child” — a child that is strong in social, emotional and language development skills — can be productive learners in the continuum of successful teaching and learning in the 21st century.

To put it briefly, “While backgrounds and schools differ, the rules for success remain constant.”                                     — Excerpt from speeches by Bob Moore.


Kaye Davis-Mangum is a retired public school educator, serving Anson, Durham and Stanly County Public Schools for more than 30 years. She currently works for Western Governors University – Teachers College as an adjunct faculty evaluator.