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Using multiple methods to describe supports for the transition from Head Start to kindergarten

Head Start programs engage in multiple practices to support children and families during the transition to kindergarten. Children moving from Head Start to kindergarten often encounter discontinuities between the program and services they were receiving and the new elementary school environment. This paper uses multiple datasets and methods to provide a rich descriptive picture of the types of practices Head Start programs engage in to support the transition to kindergarten, including child and family focused transition practices and coordination practices with elementary schools. Data from a nationally representative sample of Head Start center directors (N=129) showed that 95% reported having a formal transition process in place. However, reports on the specific practices that Head Start engaged in varied, with child and family focused practices reported by the majority of directors, but coordination practices showed more variability. Qualitative interview data with Head Start center directors (N=16), suggest that child and family focused transition practices varied slightly, but coordination practices varied more depending on the Head Start center’s relationships with the elementary schools and local education agencies to which the children were transitioning. Together, these data sources suggest that Head Start policy and guidance around transition practices is leading to high implementation of transition practices that Head Start has control over, but more supports may be needed for Head Start to build relationships with elementary schools in order to strengthen coordination practices. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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