September was Attendance Awareness Month, and Great Oakland Public Schools took the opportunity to ask principals at Oakland schools about their approaches to good attendance. In this edition of Learn with Us, we would like to share some of their great ideas with you. We also spoke with Tanya Harris, Oakland Unified School District Manager of Transitional Kindergarten, to find out why she thinks attendance is important to focus on in transitional kindergarten. Here’s what Tanya had to say:
The research is clear around attendance being tied to reading and academic success, transitions to middle school and high school, and higher graduation rates. In transitional kindergarten (TK), students are focusing not only on building academic foundations for success, but on social and emotional development because both are equally important for success in school. Students in TK are learning to use language to communicate their needs, build relationships with other children and teachers, and be more self-regulated in a classroom setting.
A big part of the strategy for social-emotional development in Oakland Unified is through complex social play, which makes building these essential skills fun for students. Teachers receive training and support to create an environment that encourages interactions, hands-on, play-based activities, and builds on children’s natural interests and curiosities. Children develop a love of learning at the same time that they learn how to do classroom routines and get along with others.
Another essential element of child success that is central in TK is parent and family engagement. For parents of transitional kindergarteners, this may be the first time they have ever come to a school setting. Building strong attendance in transitional kindergarten is an opportunity to build partnerships with children’s first teachers: their families. And when families are connected to the school community they have an incentive to make sure their children don’t miss school.
We hope you enjoy the following newsletters from Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center, which highlight fun and effective strategies that Oakland principals have used to bring a measureable boost to their attendance rates.