Risk and Protective Factors for School Readiness

An abundance of research exists on the risk factors that contribute to the disparities in children’s school readiness. While the presence of risk does not inevitably determine that a child will fall behind, the existence of risk can be powerful enough to create barriers. An increase in the likelihood of delays has been found to be proportionate to the number of risk factors a child experiences. The cumulative risk model demonstrates that the more risk factors experienced in early childhood, the less likely a child is to be ready for kindergarten.6

School readiness can be conceptualized as a many stranded rope woven together of a combination of factors that differ for each child. Although there are individual differences, each rope contains certain key strands from the individual child, their family and the financial resources available to them. Separately each key strand is important but in combination they weave together to create a resilient ready child.

Research provides a consistent picture of the key strands which impact a child’s ability to begin school on the best possible footing. By targeting the most predominant risk and protective factors and promoting evidence-based interventions we can promote school readiness in Kansas. The long term prosperity of not just individual families but communities and the state depend on the optimal development during this critical period of development. The following represents a brief compilation of the most relevant research on the risk factors impacting school readiness and the interventions that can reduce the consequences of risk.

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Risk & Protective Factors