Public school kindergarten teachers agree that physical well being, social development, and curiosity are more important for kindergarten readiness than knowledge of discrete skills. Almost all teachers state that being physically healthy, rested, and well-nourished is a very important or essential quality for kindergarten readiness. In addition, more than three-fourths believe that children should be able to communicate needs, wants, and thoughts in their own language and that they should be enthusiastic and curious when approaching new activities. Conversely, less than one-fourth think it very important that children have good problem-solving skills, can identify primary colors and basic shapes, be able to use pencils, know the alphabet, or count to 20. In fact, over half of the teachers state that it is not very (or not at all) important to know the alphabet or count in order to be ready for kindergarten. Regarding other qualities--such as knowing the English language, not being disruptive of the class, being able to sit still and pay attention-- teachers are more divided. Roughly half (between 40 and 60 percent) consider these very important qualities, but the remainder see them as only somewhat important or not important.
Kindergarten teachers" views on school readiness and how to facilitate learning show even greater diversity and some contradiction. Although almost all teachers believe that readiness comes with time to mature and cannot be pushed, they also believe that they can enhance readiness by providing children with skill-building experiences. About half of the teachers would enroll children in kindergarten when they are eligible, even if they seem to be unready for school, whereas half would suggest that children with readiness problems wait a year before enrolling in kindergarten.
Kindergarten teachers almost universally agree that parents should read to their children and play counting games at home regularly and that one of the best ways to help children learn to read is to read to them. In keeping with their teachers" attitudes toward reading, children in 90 percent of kindergartens classes listened to stories read aloud daily during a typical week in the 1992-93 school year.
In summary, the survey has answered some of the questions that were posed in the background section. Most kindergarten teachers believe enthusiasm and curiosity are more important than knowing the alphabet or counting. There is consensus on some practices to help develop readiness and diversity of opinions on others. Further exploration of the interrelations among the different beliefs and attitudes about readiness, which is currently being done, may shed some clarification on the dimensionality of readiness.