Building Successful Pathways from Kindergarten to Grade 1

I was recently asked a very thought provoking question by a FDK team that I support.  I was asked to help them create consistency when discussing their Kindergarten and Grade 1 students, specifically in the area of self-regulation.  The FDK team expressed their challenge that what they considered to be a “high student” was not considered to be a “high student” in Grade 1, and this was presenting challenges when beginning to build classes for next year.  They also asked me if there was an equivalent document of Growing Success for Kindergarten, that might help them.   I’ve included my response email below.  I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions!    

“Wow, this is a very thought provoking question and please know you are not alone!  There are many questions that arise when seeking consistency and I don’t have an easy answer for you.  These are my thoughts.

There is not an equivalent document of Growing Success for Kindergarten.  This is because we are not evaluating Kindergarten students on expectations of a curriculum, but rather gathering evidence of student learning throughout a two year program.  When you write a SOP (Summary of Progress), you are commenting not on how well students are doing an expectation but rather whether they are doing it consistently, sometimes, or need more time in order to develop a skill.  On the other hand, in grade one you are now reporting on how well a student achieves an expectation. 

There does seem to be a discrepancy in our idea of what self-regulation looks like, feels like, and sounds like.  If you read the self-regulation section of the FDK program document, then it’s clear that we are trying to teach students to regulate with internal motivation.  The program document says, “Children demonstrate social self-regulation when they are able to regulate their behaviour.  For example, they can focus their attention, follow instructions…”  So, in Kindergarten this could mean that students can focus when engaged in play (for a developmentally appropriate amount of time) or maybe they can follow instructions like, “Hands on head, that means stop”.  

When students move to grade 1, and if that grade one program is not inquiry based, then it is not surprising that we would encounter these challenges.  Let’s picture a young boy, a student who was self-regulating and engaged in his self-directed learning in Kindergarten, who then moves to grade one and is expected to be able to sit on the carpet for longer periods of time and complete work that maybe wasn’t of his choice.  This would be a challenge for him.  As you are well aware, there are some challenges that we face when building successful pathways for this transition.  This is a work in progress. 

Let’s reflect on these questions before our meeting:

What does self-regulation look like, feel like and sound like in a Kindergarten play based/inquiry based program?

What does self-regulation look like, feel like and sound like in Grade 1?  

Is it possible that a student’s self-regulation can differ from year to year?

What would success criteria look like for self-regulation in Kindergarten and then in Grade 1? (This should help you when building your classes.)

Maybe the grade one teachers would like to join us? 

In addition, there is an excellent blog for building connections between Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2.  Check it out!

As I continue to reflect on my response, I continue to think about what self-regulation looks like, feels like and sounds like in Kindergarten and then in grade 1.  I would love for you to share your ideas for criteria!  



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2 Responses to Building Successful Pathways from Kindergarten to Grade 1

  1. Lori says:

    I wrote a reply and lost it somehow so I’m trying again but shortening it! My question surrounded transition times. I wondered how much big blocks of self directed learning as opposed to the traditional micromanaged balanced literacy block or Daily 5 style literacy block affected children’s ability to self regulate. As I moved from FDK to 1 I kept the big blocks of self directed learning as that is all the kids know. I have a class of calm kids who know what’s expected during class who amaze me everyday with their learning and I feel WAY calmer for it. I rarely assign a task and it’s working but….now they are headed to grade two and I worry how these kids who have been allowed three years of think and talk time will fit in a traditional balanced literacy program????

  2. Ellen Brown, MEd, OCT, RECE, PhD student says:

    I would like to say, as a graduate student researching pedagogical documentation and self-regulation, that I appreciate your comments that the intention of the Kindergarten Program in Ontario is not to invite evaluation of the children but to gather evidence of learning throughout the two year program. Pedagogical documentation, as teacher research, makes children’s thinking and feelings visible in the relations that they create among other children, as they use materials they are offered, and in their experiences within their environment. Pedagogical documentation allows educators, families, and the children themselves to notice the understandings and connections that they are making in their experiences and allows these connections to be recognized as significant and important learning.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and best wishes in your work.

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