Date Presented 04/22/2023

The implementation and impact of kindergarten learning standards were investigated. OT practitioner findings indicate that standards are not developmentally appropriate. OT advocacy is needed for appropriate standards, play, preacademic skills, and collaboration.

Primary Author and Speaker: Alexa Molinari

Contributing Authors: Tara Glennon

PURPOSE: This study investigated the impact of kindergarten learning standards and practices of teachers and school-based OTPs. This study seeks to answer: How are New York State kindergarten learning standards implemented? And what is the perceived impact on kindergarten students’ physical and emotional responses from the perspective of school-based occupational therapy practitioners and kindergarten teachers? Kindergarten expectations have become more academically focused (Bassock et al., 2019), and developmental expectations have also changed (Zubler et al., 2022). A gap exists in OT literature investigating the impact of kindergarten learning standards.

DESIGN: This study used a quantitative, non-experimental design and was approved by Quinnipiac University’s institutional review board. Using purposive and snowball sampling, New York State (NYS) kindergarten teachers and school-based OTPs participated in this study. Postings were shared to education- and OT- social media pages. Emails were sent to potential participants.

METHOD: A survey was developed by the researchers; data was collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics on SurveyMonkey.

RESULTS: Participants included 48 OTPs and 13 kindergarten teachers. The majority of OTPs disagreed that writing standards are developmentally appropriate. OTPs were more familiar with writing than math standards and teachers were more prepared to implement a math than writing curriculum. OTPs and teachers agreed with sensory, motor, and emotional standards. OTPs and teachers varied on perceived student responses.

CONCLUSION: Gathering state-by-state data on kindergarten learning standards is needed. OT advocacy for developmentally appropriate milestones and learning standards is warranted. OTPs should be on decision-making teams when discussing policy changes. Promotion of play and pre-academic skills is needed. Development of an AOTA toolkit on OTP-teacher collaboration is also recommended.


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2017). Guidelines for occupational therapy services in early intervention and schools. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(Suppl. 2) 7112410010.

Bassock, D., Latham, S., & Rorem, A. (2016). Is kindergarten the new first grade? American Educational Research Association Open, 1(4), 1-31.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Table 203.40 enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by level, grade, and state or jurisdiction: Fall 2020.

Zubler, J. M., Wiggins, L. D., Macias, M. M., Whitaker, T. M., Shaw, J. S., Squires, J. K., Pajek, J. A., Wolf, R. B., Slaughter, K. S., Broughton, A. S., Gerndt, K. L., Mlodoch, B. J., & Lipkin, P. H. (2022). Evidence-informed milestones for developmental surveillance tools. Pediatrics, e2021052138.