Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Pauline Stonehouse


This small-scale qualitative study explored the perceptions of five low-income mothers regarding their child's readiness for kindergarten. The study has the potential to help early childhood advocates and other stakeholders (a) understand how low-income environments influence school readiness, (b) understand the aspirations low-income parents have for their children, (c) discover ways to improve the transition to school for economically disadvantaged children, and (d) engage parents in a more equitable manner--ultimately helping all children start kindergarten with success.

Parents selected for this study had a child age 4-5 who was the oldest child in the family, on a Head Start waiting list, and eligible to start kindergarten. Parents participated in a two-phase individual interview process. Each phase of interviews involved the participants responding to a predetermined list of six questions related to school readiness. The second phase involved participants reviewing a kindergarten assessment and talking about how they developed the skills and knowledge with their own child.

Emerging theory from this research reflects the differences between parents' perceptions and the schools' views regarding school readiness. The theory supports a new definition of kindergarten readiness comprised of ready schools, ready parents, and ready children. The new definition has the potential to be recognized by early childhood advocates at a local, state, and national level and serve as a resource to clarify the meaning of kindergarten readiness, thereby enhancing early childhood programs.

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