Improving Kindergarten Transitions for Tribal Children


The Tohono O’odham Community of Practice goals are:

1. Facilitate Tohono O’odham children’s transition into kindergarten

2. Support Tohono O’odham children with diverse abilities and assist kindergarten transitions for children with an IEP

3. Enhance professional development and practices among early childhood professionals on the Tohono O’odham Nation

4. Encourage and facilitate progress toward college degrees for early childhood professionals on the Tohono O’odham Nation

The four goals are intertwined. As childhood professionals advance professionally and academically, they are better able to provide the developmentally appropriate environment and practices that will prepare young children for kindergarten and later life.

How to enroll
Prospective members of the Community of Practice complete an interest form designed by United Way/First Things First. Enrollment is simple, but to maintain membership requires actively participating in Community of Practice activities throughout the year. Participants are expected to attend all 9 Professional Development sessions.

Tohono O’odham Community College offers a companion ECE course that often meets in conjunction with Community of Practice events. Fifteen scholarships per academic year are offered through Community of Practice for this course. The course title and focus change from one semester to the next. In addition, Community of Practice collaborates with higher education institutions, and potentially other programs to help students progress toward their degrees. To be enrolled in the companion ECE course, members must register through the Tohono O’odham Community College.

When and where classes/sessions are held
Community of Practice events are held every other month; the time and the place changes to accommodate educators and their working schedules.

Schedule of Sessions 

  • August 09 2019 Introduction to the Community of Practice
  • September 13 2019 – Effective Observations for Documentation
  • November 8 2019 Nature and Place Based Education through Powerful Interactions and Inquiry and STEM
  • January 10 2020 The importance of Developing a Professional Identity and Beyond the “Bully” label
  • February 14 2020 Make Way for Books; How to make the most of your readings.
  • March 13 2020 Systems Thinking in a Culturally Appropriate and Beyond Remote Control Children, Teaching Young Children in the Media Age. 
  • May 8 2020 Cultural Presentations, End of year Celebration

These will include presentations by experts in early childhood practices, including academics, health, social and emotional development, and Tohono O’odham language and culture. Each presentation includes exploration of hands-on activities to be used in the work environment.

In addition, the Community of Practice organizes observation visits to schools receiving Tohono O’odham children into kindergarten.

Members of the cohort also are encouraged and in some cases funded to attend other relevant trainings and conferences throughout the year.

Community of Practice meetings are four hours, followed by a two-hour session for cohort members aimed at implementing content from the presentations. Class sessions are typically held once a month for five hours.  The presentations are arranged and facilitated by CoP Coordinator, Elsa Peterson, and the TOCC Class sessions are led by a TOCC Adjunct Faculty. Group and individual coaching is available to all members. Members enrolled in the ECE course also agree to a minimum of 2 coaching sessions per semester.

The school observation visits can be several hours depending on the location and the number of classrooms to be observed.

The Tohono O’odham Community of Practice offers educational incentives for cohort members who attend all events. Mileage reimbursement is paid for members’ travel to CoP events.

Students enrolled in the companion TOCC ECE course are graded based on attendance and completion of homework assignments aligned with CoP content and TOCC policies.

Members participate in this course to earn college credit or professional development hours. All credit courses require students to register through the Tohono O’odham Community College. The classes being offered to accommodate the needs of Early Childhood Education Professionals are as follows:

Tohono O’odham Community College Early Childhood Education 2019-2020 Schedule of Classes

ECE 228 Family Culture and Community (Saturday Fall 2019)

Saturday FALL 2019 Schedule for the ECE 228 Family Culture and Community 

ECE 117 Child Development (FALL 2019/Evenings) Tuesday 4-7 pm 

S-cuk Du’ag Maṣcamakuḍ – Black Mountain Campus (MAIN CAMPUS)

ECE 110 Language and Communication/Early Literacy (FALL 2019/Evenings) Thursdays 4-7 PM 

S-cuk Du’ag Maṣcamakuḍ – Black Mountain Campus (MAIN CAMPUS)

ECE 125 Health Safety and Nutrition (Spring2020/Evenings) Every Thursday 4-7pm 

S-cuk Du’ag Maṣcamakuḍ – Black Mountain Campus (MAIN CAMPUS)

ECE 226 Child Guidance and Classroom Management (Spring2020/Evenings) Tuesday 4-7pm 

S-cuk Du’ag Maṣcamakuḍ – Black Mountain Campus (MAIN CAMPUS)

For further information, contact Elsa Peterson, Coordinator, 520-383-0109 or