School Readiness in Children in Out-of-Home Care
Whether a child enters formal schooling with appropriate school readiness skills—the critical skills necessary to succeed—can influence that child’s academic and psychosocial trajectories throughout the school years. Children who have been placed into out-of-home care (OHC) during their preschool years may show deficits in their school readiness skills that increase their likelihood of academic failure, placement into special education, and leaving school prematurely. This chapter outlines the skills that are necessary for a successful start to formal schooling. We then examine the potential underlying psychosocial and neurobiological mechanisms of the school readiness deficits documented in many young children in foster care. We conclude with evidence from, and suggestions about, an efficacious preventive intervention that may increase these children’s readiness for school and thus place them on positive academic and social trajectories—The Kids In Transition to School (KITS) Program.
KeywordsSchool readiness Preschool Neurobiology
Support for this chapter was provided by the following grants: R01 DA021424 and P30 A023920 Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, Prevention Research Branch, NIDA, U.S. PHS. The content of this chapter is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding organizations. Katherine Pears is a co-developer of the KITS Program. The authors would like to thank Sally Schwader for editorial assistance and all of the children and families who participated in the KITS Foster Care Study.
- Barrat, V. X., & Berliner, B. (2013). The invisible achievement gap, Part 1: Education outcomes of students in foster care in California’s public schools. San Francisco: WestEd.Google Scholar
- Casey, B. J., Somerville, L. H., Gotlib, I. H., Ayduk, O., Franklin, N. T., Askren, M. K., et al. (2011). Behavioral and neural correlates of delay of gratification 40 years later. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 14998–15003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Downer, J. T., & Pianta, R. C. (2006). Academic and cognitive functioning in first grade: Associations with earlier home and child care predictors and with concurrent home and classroom experiences. School Psychology Review, 35, 11–30.Google Scholar
- Graham, A. M., Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Bruce, J., & Fisher, P. A. (2018). Effects of a school readiness intervention on hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning and school adjustment for children in foster care. Development and Psychopathology, 30(2), 651–664.Google Scholar
- Heckman, J. J. (2000). Invest in the very young. Chicago: Ounce of Prevention Fund and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies.Google Scholar
- Jacobs, J. E., & Johnston, K. E. (2005). Everyone else is doing it: Relations between bias in base-rate estimates and involvement in deviant behaviors. In J. E. Jacobs & P. A. Klaczynski (Eds.), The development of judgment and decision making in children and adolescents (pp. 157–179). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Lunkenheimer, E. S., Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D. S., Connell, A. M., Gardner, F., Wilson, M. N., et al. (2008). Collateral benefits of the family check-up on early childhood school readiness: Indirect effects of parents’ positive behavior support. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1737–1752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McLaughlin, K. A., Sheridan, M. A., Tibu, F., Fox, N. A., Zeanah, C. H., & Nelson III, C. A. (2015). Causal effects of the early caregiving environment on development of stress response systems in children. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, 5637–5642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pears, K. C., Carpenter, L., Kim, H. K., Peterson, E., & Fisher, P. A. (2018). The kids in transition to school program. In A. J. Mashburn, J. LoCasale-Crouch, & K. C. Pears (Eds.), Kindergarten transition and readiness: Promoting cognitive, social-emotional, and self-regulatory development (pp. 283–302). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pianta, R. C., & Cox, M. J. (Eds.). (1999). The transition to kindergarten. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co..Google Scholar
- Pianta, R. C., & Stuhlman, M. W. (2004). Teacher-child relationships and children’s success in the first years of school. School Psychology Review, 33, 444–458.Google Scholar
- Sapolsky, R. M., Romero, M., & Munck, A. (2000). How do glucocorticoids influence stress responses? Integrating permissive, suppressive, stimulatory, and preparative actions. Endocrine Reviews, 21, 55–89.Google Scholar