Rhode Island’s Approach to Kindergarten Transitions

The transition to kindergarten is a complex educational concept with a wide range of practices. A successful kindergarten transition must take into consideration the children, the families, and the education professionals. It is important that all RI early learning programs and receiving kindergarten classrooms have a plan for how they support children and families during the transition to kindergarten.

In 2017, Rhode Island received supplemental funding from the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen and align our Birth to Five Continuum. Using this funding the RI Department of Education created the Kindergarten Transition Series.

As kindergarten is often the first school experience for many students, ensuring a smooth transition into the school year is essential for setting up children to succeed in both kindergarten and future grades. A smooth transition not only means that students feel supported when beginning kindergarten, but that parents feel welcomed and empowered with the knowledge necessary to help their child have a successful kindergarten year.

The Pre-K to Kindergarten Transition Series supports the intentional alignment and transition between the RI Pre-K, Community Child Care, Head Start programs and Kindergarten classrooms. As part of the Transition Series, RI brings together community cohorts of early childhood educators, administrators, and school leaders, along with community partners from the Pre-K and Kindergarten workforce to support aligned instruction and transitional practices and joint planning and professional development.

Three essential elements drive the Summit Series focus for evidence-based transition practices: leadership, aligned early learning instruction and assessment, and family and community engagement. Throughout the Summit Series, teams build understanding of evidence-based practices and current research on leadership competencies and structures, Pre-K to Kindergarten alignment, standards alignment and the importance of engaging families and community members in the kindergarten registration and transition process.

By focusing on these elements team obtained content, protocol support, tools and strategies for data sharing, assessment, and instructional alignment between the grades with the goal of providing cohesive and comprehensive high-quality learning experiences with a fluid and sustainable transition from Pre-K to kindergarten.

To date, 11 communities have participated in the Kindergarten Transition Series and successfully created community transition plans and identified common goals for the children transitioning into Kindergarten in their community.

  • Children will experience an aligned curriculum as they transition from Pre-K to K.
  • To strengthen systems of communication from School- School and Family-School.
  • To foster knowledge and familiarity of the kindergarten setting and people in it for families and their children.
  • To support meaningful collaboration between preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers to decrease incoming students’ anxiety and apprehension.
  • To foster the kindergarten teacher’s knowledge and familiarity with incoming kindergarteners and their families.
  • To facilitate the transition process within the community to improve the kindergarten registration process and conduct various outreach events across the city.

More information about the Transition Series can be found in the RI Findings and Case Studies Transition to K Report.

We know that the successful coordination between Pre-K and Kindergarten helps lay the groundwork for a child’s positive school experience. By aligning standards, curricula, instruction and assessments between Pre-K and Kindergarten programs, children can experience a seamless pathway that is key to a child’s social adjustment and future educational success. Linking systems through new and intentional policies support all elements of the education continuum. This continuous process requires systematic collaboration and communication to develop a sustainable transition system.

RI strives to have robust community systems in place to facilitate successful transition to kindergarten for all students.

For more information on Kindergarten Transition in RI, please contact Zoe McGrath at 401-222-8941.

Participating Communities

The following 11 communities have participated in the Transition Series

  • Central Falls
  • Coventry
  • Cranston
  • East Providence
  • Newport
  • North Providence
  • Pawtucket
  • Warwick
  • West Warwick
  • Westerly
  • Woonsocket