Educational Psychology faculty receive award to create kindergarten readiness website

Child drawing with markers

Open access website will be resource for teachers, families and others to prepare children for kindergarten

Educational researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago have received a $100,000 grant to help fund the creation of an online kindergarten readiness website for teachers and families.

The investment from the CME Group Foundation will finance the effort to create the website, “Getting Ready for Your Kindergartner: A Teacher and Family Resource.” The two-year investment will help develop the open access website to expand early connections to education.

The initiative will be coordinated by four University of Illinois Chicago experts from UIC’s College of Education and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The project will be led by Kathleen Sheridan, associate professor of the Educational Psychology Department.

Free resource helps adults help kids to be ready for school

Other project leaders include: Kate Zinsser, associate professor of community and prevention research in the psychology department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, assistant professor in the educational psychology department; and Catherine Main, senior lecturer and program coordinator in the College of Education.

According to the project leaders, families, preschool and kindergarten teachers all define readiness in different ways and those definitions impact teaching practices and influence the learning and development of young children. As a result, the need for a shared definition of what readiness means is imperative so that the adults — teachers and/or family members — are ready for the young student regardless of the child’s “perceived readiness.”

To do this, the project leaders propose the creation of an open access, online kindergarten readiness website for teachers, families and others with the focus on how to be ready for the kindergarten child, regardless of their developmental stage.

According to the proposal, “The shift from readiness being the burden of the child to readiness being the responsibility of the adults is an important change in mindset. Looking at all kindergartners through a strengths-based lens, helps us to shift the focus of readiness to the role that teachers and families play in kindergarten readiness.”

The open access website will provide a centralized space for early childhood families, caregivers and educators to access resources, activities, support and a shared definition of what “kindergarten readiness” means. The aim is to engage 1,000 teachers and 500 families by the end of the second year of the project.

“If we believe that it is the responsibility of schools to meet the needs of children as they enter school, and to provide whatever services are needed to help each child reach his or her fullest potential, then adults must be ready for every kindergarten child, regardless of their perceived ‘readiness,’” they write.

The CME Group Foundation works to advance the economy by supporting education from cradle to career, primarily in the Chicago region. The foundation partners with universities, school districts, charter networks and nonprofit organizations that work to ensure at-risk young children are prepared for kindergarten; provide effective K-12 education that prepares disadvantaged students for success in college and career; prepare university students for careers in financial services and risk management; and conduct academic research in areas that advance derivatives knowledge and best practices.