Gearing Up for Kindergarten

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Key Findings in Research on Gearing Up for Kindergarten

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These findings related to the Gearing Up for Kindergarten educational program have emerged from research conducted in the first three years of the program as it operated yearly from 2006 through 2013.  Selected research findings include the following:

  • Program participation – 87 percent of participants indicated involvement in 75% or more of the program sessions during the year. This represents a positive and high rate of participation and retention in a parent education program involving parents and children.
  • General value of the program – Participants expressed positive feelings about the value of the program, with 86 percent saying it was very or extremely useful to them. Also, 85 percent said the handouts and learning activities were very useful to them. Finally, all of them agreed that the information was presented well and they were treated respectfully.
  • General impacts of program participation – Among participants, 62 percent indicated the program increased their knowledge of child development a lot or very much; 58 percent noted it increased their knowledge of healthy parenting a lot or very much; 60 percent felt it increased their confidence in being a good parent a lot or very much; 53 percent said it increased their parenting skills a lot or very much.  Additionally, 84 percent felt it changed their parenting behavior at least somewhat, and 89 percent indicated that it influenced their relationship with their pre-kindergarten child positively.
  • Program value versus other information sources – Participants were asked to rate the value of a variety of information sources on parenting and school readiness, such as parents with children of a similar age, preschool/Head Start, and other sources.  However, the Gearing Up for Kindergarten class and materials were rated higher than all other sources (4.05 on a scale of 1 to 5), indicating that participants felt the class was more useful to them regarding parenting and school readiness than any other information source assessed.
  • Impacts on parental practices – Participants were asked to answer questions about their specific activities as parents in a number of areas, both before and after participating in the program.  Participants noted small to moderate changes in 12 of the 18 parental practices related to school readiness that were measured, with all of the changes showing positive increases in a particular parental practice (e.g., more actively discussing a story with children or engaging in more active play with a child).  These changes suggested incremental improvement in key aspects of parental involvement and guidance, and the increases that occurred in parents’ efforts with their children in specific areas were typically three to four times higher than would be expected to occur due to random chance.
  • Increases in children’s school readiness as described by parents – Among 52 indicators of school readiness assessed by parents regarding their children, more than 75 percent of the indicators for school readiness showed positive growth in children participating in Gearing Up for Kindergarten.  In analyzing all increases, the findings suggest growth in five primary areas:  (1) social skills and positive interaction with others; (2) ability to function more independently and learn actively in a guided environment; (3) development of specific pre-academic skills or knowledge that applies to a school setting (knowing the alphabet and numbers, etc.); (4) ability to express themselves through art and hands-on creative activities; and (5) ability to manage emotions and adapt in a new environment.
  • School knowledge of parents and children – For both parents and children, indicators of school knowledge showed significant increases in preparation and knowledge for the school experience.  For pre-kindergarten children, the percentage who had visited a school or kindergarten classroom increased by 24%, those who met a kindergarten teacher at their prospective school increased 19%, and those who meet peers they will be with in kindergarten increased nearly 19%.  For parents, the percentage who had visited a school or kindergarten classroom increased 18%, those who had met a kindergarten teacher at their child’s prospective school increased 17%, and those meeting other parents who will have children in kindergarten increased 8%.
  • Children’s comfort and familiarity with school – For children in the program, among 8 indicators of comfort level and familiarity with school, significant differences were measured on 7 of the 8 indicators.  Findings showed that children became more familiar with kindergarten routines and expectations, more comfortable with the school environment, more comfortable separating from parents, and more curious and excited about beginning school.
  • Parent comfort and familiarity with school – For parents involved in Gearing Up for Kindergarten, significant differences were measured on 5 of the 8 indicators regarding comfort level and familiarity with school. Findings showed that parents became more familiar with kindergarten routines and expectations for their child, more comfortable interacting with school personnel, more aware of their child’s behavior with peers, and more aware of the ability level of kindergarten children.
  • Increases in children’s school readiness as described by teachers - Among 39 indicators of school readiness rated by teachers on a scale of 1 to 3, more than 70 percent of the indicators rated by teachers showed positive growth in children participating in Gearing Up for Kindergarten.  In analyzing all significant increases in the findings, the findings suggest growth in five primary areas:  (1) social skills and positive interaction with others; (2) ability to function more independently and learn actively in a guided environment; (3) development of specific pre-academic skills and knowledge regarding language and literacy; (4) development of specific pre-academic skills and knowledge regarding math and science; and (5) ability to express themselves through art and hands-on creative activities.

Research and evaluation on the program objectives and outcomes is ongoing.  More detailed information and research findings can be found in other documents and reports located on this page.


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