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San Diego’s Kindergarten Shock

July 26, 2016
OutcomesQuality and Curriculum
Scott Lewis
Voice of San Diego

San Diego writer tells us that equipping more children to enter kindergarten prepared won’t be easy. We could extend transitional kindergarten to all students. We could expand slots for universal preschool and vouchers for good preschools. We could massage the standards. But whatever we do, new parents need to know right away that they must set their kids’ educations in motion from the beginning.

We can debate Common Core and other established standards all we want — and we surely will for some time. For now, they are the standards many of us confront when our children enter kindergarten. And some of our children are not ready for them. It’s not just a wealthy versus poor gap, either. Even the most resourceful parents confront a bewildering array of options — and lack of options — for early childcare and preschool.

“For the most part, when a family moves into a community and they have a seventh-grade kid, they know where to go, they know who to ask. It’s not the same if you have a seven-month-old child. It doesn’t matter your socioeconomic background,” said Ida Rose Florez, executive director of the Elementary Institute of Science, and an expert on early childhood education and development. For people with low incomes or struggling in poverty, it can obviously be much worse. Only 48 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in San Diego County attend preschool, according to Census data crunched by the group Children Now. It’s not that everyone needs to go to a preschool. But they need to be on that continuum from infancy, especially if they’re going to attend traditional public schools with the standards as firmly in place as they are. As Florez pointed out, also on Good Schools for All, children serve up cues from the moment they come into the world — invitations to teach them. When the invitation is taken up, it lays a foundation in the actual shape of their brains. It helps them learn more. “Learning begets learning,” Florez said.