School Readiness

Learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten.

Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates economically disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success.

Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.

Did You Know?

  • Learning to read starts at birth

    An estimated 90% of brain development happens during the first 5 years of a child’s life.  In fact, children’s brains grow the fastest in the first 3 years of life.  When you read to babies, you’re building their brains, developing language skills, building essential vocabulary for reading success.

    First 5 California

  • Vocabulary is particularly important

    A child’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict third grade reading achievement.

    Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

  • Access to preschool and early childhood education

    Children who enter school with early learning experiences that increase their social, emotional, and academic development are much more likely to have successful academic outcomes once they enter school.

    First Five Years Fund

School Readiness Resources

  • Oakland Starting Smart and Strong Initiative

    An active collaborative of nonprofits and local government agencies working together in a 10-year effort focused on creating universal access to high-quality early learning.

  • First 5 Alameda County

    First 5 Alameda County supports a county-wide continuous prevention and early intervention system that promotes optimal health and development, narrows disparities and improves the lives of children zero to five and their families.

  • Child Trends

    A nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that conducts extensive research and analysis on early childhood development and school readiness.

  • First Five Years Fund

    A nonprofit that provides knowledge, data, and advocacy to help federal policymakers make informed investments in quality early childhood development

  • Ounce of Prevention Fund

    A national organization that develops early childhood programs, trains providers, and advocates for sound early childhood policies.

  • Zero To Three

    Zero To Three works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development.


    A non-profit child care referral and support agency serving families in Northern Alameda County. They provide free parenting information, workshops and referrals to family child care, child care centers, preschools, babysitters, in-home caregivers, nannies and playgroups. They also provide subsidized child care for parents in need and offer training and technical support to caregivers and child care programs.

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