School readiness has captured our attention. Across the country, policymakers, politicians, advocates, educators, and community members are forging alliances to increase children’s access to the kinds of early childhood experiences that will best prepare them for success in school. At the same time, census figures indicate that the child population in the United States is changing and young Latinos account for most of that change (O’Hare, 2011).
As a population, Latinos experience greater rates of poverty and other risk factors that adversely affect school readiness (Ackerman & Tazi, 2015). In addition, many Latino children enter kindergarten speaking little or no English (Gormley, 2008). Once in kindergarten, many Latinos encounter differences in the language or languages of instruction by virtue of their status as “English Language Learners.”
This study looked at the patterns of school readiness on the Early Development Instrument (EDI) in one New York school district that offered both bilingual instruction (Transitional Bilingual Education and Dual Language) and English only to Spanish-speaking kindergartners. The EDI surveys kindergarten teachers’ perceptions about children’s school readiness for First Grade across five developmental domains. Children who received bilingual instruction in kindergarten (n=84) had higher ratings in three of the five developmental domains and were nearly four times more likely to be rated as Very Ready for School in four or more domains than the group that received English only instruction (n=74). All the children may have benefitted from attending kindergarten, but these findings suggest that bilingual instruction for Spanish-speaking children was a more effective approach to enhance their school readiness.
Tazi, Zoila PhD
"Ready for La Escuela: School Readiness and the Languages of Instruction in Kindergarten,"
Journal of Multilingual Education Research:
Vol. 5, Article 3.
Available at: http://fordham.bepress.com/jmer/vol5/iss1/3