Key Learnings

Why aren’t children prepared for Kindergarten?

Aspire conducted multiple Café Conversations with parents, caregivers, teachers and administrators to get some answers. Here’s what they said.

From the parents of preschool-age and Kindergarten-age children

  • There was a general fear of enrolling their children in preschool.
  • Some parents expressed a lack of knowledge of preschool and community resources and options.
  • Many parents felt preschool was not accessible, affordable or available to meet work and/or family schedules.

There was clearly a lack of understanding of the impact of preschool in relation to social emotional development.

From the preschool professionals and providers

  • They felt social-emotional skills are essential for school success.
  • They identified parent support and involvement as fundamental to student success.
  • This group felt students need to be able to express themselves using developmentally appropriate language, and that developmentally appropriate cognitive skills lay the foundation for success.

From the Kindergarten teachers 

  • Expressed concern that children don’t have the self-help skills needed to function independently.
  • Felt children don’t have the social-emotional skills to form and maintain relationships with peers.
  • Expressed concern that children don’t have the academic readiness skills to learn, nor do they have the social-emotional skills to form and maintain relationships with adults.


Additionally, while conducting the work, it came to light that there is significant shortage of qualified preschool teachers available.  High quality child care is dependent on an ongoing pool of well-trained professionals.  Staff turnover continues to be challenge.

Check back later to learn more about our learnings and next steps in this important area.

What are the barriers and challenges that keep students from succeeding in school?

We conducted Café Conversations with teachers and administrators at Waite High School. Here are some of the reasons they gave us:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Poverty
  • Basic needs are not met
  • Students are taking care of younger (non-school age) siblings; get to school late
  • Lack of male role model
  • School is seen as an option because work and earning money are mandatory in their families
  • Language barriers (English is second language)
  • Work too many hours late at night
  • Live on their own, or don’t have a place to live
  • Lack clean clothes or clothes that fit
  • Lack organizational skills
  • No family support system
  • Pregnancy/have their own children to take care of
  • Can’t afford supplies
  • Parent (s) on drugs
  • Lack of social/emotional support
  • Unstable home life


Here’s what the kids themselves said:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Parents do not want them to graduate; they want them to work and help support the family
  • Peer pressure (it’s not “cool” to go to school)
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Can’t deal with the bullying that occurs
  • Working too many hours to help support the family; too tired to get to school
  • Stress
  • Lack of interest
  • Drugs
  • Problems at school
  • Gangs
  • Lack of parent involvement
  • Have gone to too many schools; can’t keep up
  • Abusive parents
  • Low self esteem