All children should be able to enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. However the path to kindergarten readiness begins long before the pre-kindergarten year.
A new report commissioned by Somerville’s schools, the City and the School Committee recognizes this and recommends going beyond providing early education for four-year-olds to “establish an innovative early childhood system for pre-kindergarteners of all ages,” a system that would support “universal kindergarten readiness,” according to a city press release published in the Somerville Times.
The report — “SomerReady: Creating a Citywide, Universal Kindergarten Readiness System” — calls for a creating a provider network that would include Somerville Public Schools, Head Start, nonprofit and private early childhood care providers, and faith-based organizations.
The report says that Somerville should have a strong early education and care system that includes:
– home visits by health or child development specialists
– parent education
– early intervention and special education services
– child care
– pre-kindergarten, and
– physical and mental health services
The diverse network of providers could work together to provide “an integrated system” of “streamlined, coordinated and comprehensive services to all families.”
“Joint professional development for all service providers in the system and a more structured support system for early childhood programs across the city is also recommended.”
This bold proposal for Somerville has the backing of Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone: “High-quality preschool education has been shown to narrow the achievement gap by as much as half, according to the National Education Policy Center, but it’s more than just preschool that can make a difference. As we know in Somerville, it takes a holistic approach, supporting our children not only academically, but in all areas of their lives.”
Mayor Curtatone writes in-depth on Somerville’s school readiness vision in a recent column in the Somerville Times, “From diapers to day one of kindergarten, supporting families and educating children.”
Somerville School Committee Chair Christine Rafal also expresses her support. “This impressive study recognizes the complexity of raising children who are ready to take full advantage of all that our schools offer, especially for families who may experience additional challenges.” She added, “The recommendations could be seen as a modern way to implement the traditional wisdom that it really does take a village (‘Ville-age) to raise a child to his or her fullest potential.”
The report specifically recommends hiring a new “Director of Early Education and Care, who would be responsible for coordinating these efforts” and creating “a single point of entry into Somerville’s early education and care system.”
As Dr. Moncrieff Cochran, one of the report’s authors, said, “If Somerville could implement a kindergarten readiness plan this comprehensive, the City would become a leader not only in Massachusetts, but nationwide.”
Strategies for Children applauds Somerville for their kindergarten readiness vision. We will continue to monitor the plan’s implementation, as well as community-wide kindergarten readiness efforts in cities and towns across the commonwealth. If your community has a school readiness plan, let us know – contact our director of research and policy Titus DosRemedios at firstname.lastname@example.org.