School readiness includes the readiness of the individual child, the school’s readiness for children, and the ability of the family and community to support optimal early child development. It is the responsibility of schools to meet the needs of all children at all levels of readiness.
Children’s readiness for kindergarten should become an outcome measure for a coordinated system of community-based programs and supports for the healthy development of young children. Our rapidly expanding insights into early brain and child development have revealed that modifiable factors in a child’s early experience can greatly affect that child’s health and learning trajectories.
Many children in the United States enter kindergarten with limitations in their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development that might have been significantly diminished or eliminated through early identification and attention to child and family needs.
A strong correlation between social-emotional development and school and life success, combined with alarming rates of preschool expulsion, point toward the urgency of leveraging opportunities to support social-emotional development and address behavioral concerns early.
Pediatric primary care providers have access to the youngest children and their families. Pediatricians can promote and use community supports, such as home visiting programs, quality early care and education programs, family support programs and resources, early intervention services, children’s museums, and libraries, which are important for addressing school readiness and are too often underused by populations who can benefit most from them. When these are not available, pediatricians can support the development of such resources.
The American Academy of Pediatrics affords pediatricians many opportunities to improve the physical, social-emotional, and educational health of young children, in conjunction with other advocacy groups. This technical report provides an updated version of the previous iteration from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in 2008.