Supporting School Transitions for Young Learners: Considerations in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

Transitioning to school is just one of many milestones to celebrate and prepare for in a child’s life. Children may need support when they enter kindergarten and first grade, because difficulty adjusting to these new environments can put them at academic risk. And children from economically disadvantaged families are at greater risk for poor kindergarten transitions than their peers. Transition supports have shown larger benefits for children in poverty, but there are inequities in who receives support. Schools in high-poverty districts use fewer transition supportive strategies, with the children most in need of support less likely to experience them. Supportive transition strategies are associated with improved academic achievement and social and emotional competence as well as fewer behavioral problems. One study even found that schools using more transition strategies had higher achievement scores at the end of kindergarten than schools providing fewer transition strategies, regardless of family income.