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Gennie Gorback, in the news! 

Interviews, Articles, and Quotations

Happy child wearing suit riding bicycle against grey concrete wall background. Funny kid s


Meet Gennie Gorback

  • ​"I grew up to be an educator myself. Currently out of the classroom, I’m an education consultant, training teachers on valuing their students’ unique personality traits, developmentally appropriate practices and learning through play."

  • "In addition to training teachers through Kindling Education, I write Science of Reading based early literacy curriculum for a program called My Sound Town, that supports pre-readers in phonemic awareness and early phonics. I also support educators by promoting learning through play and developmentally appropriate practices through my work on the Board of Directors for the California Kindergarten Association. I was elected board president for the 2021-2023 term, and currently serve the role of Past President." (March 24, 2024)

Los Angeles Times

Nervous about the first day of school? Get your little one ready with these tips 

  • ​"It’s not yet time to worry about academics, said Gennie Gorback, the past president of the California Kindergarten Assn. The first few weeks of school are about getting your child acclimated to the new environment and comfortable with the transition."

  • "Make sure your youngster can handle what will be expected of them. Have them practice putting on their backpack on their own, opening and closing their lunch containers and tightening their shoes. Remember, shoelaces might not be developmentally appropriate for some children, Gorback said."

  • You can also read to your child to get them used to sitting still for story time, Gorback said. But don’t worry if they still need a bit of practice with that during the early days of school. Learning school structure is a big part of the first year."

  • "“TK or kindergarten — depending on the kid’s background — is teaching them to do school, introducing them to the concept of sitting at circle time, introducing them to the concept of lining up, introducing them to the concept of following directions,” Gorback said."

  • "Remember, it’s OK if your child is exhausted or has a meltdown after school, Gorback said. They’ve been on their best behavior all day. Give your child grace and some quiet time or a hug as they begin their new journey." (August 12, 2023)

Kindergarten may change in California if two new bills pass

  • “I’m optimistic that our society as a whole is beginning to see the importance of early childhood education,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association. “We know that early childhood education increases successful outcomes for kids later in life.”

  • “We see study after study reporting better outcomes for children who attend a full-day program versus their peers who attend part-day,” said Gorback. “We know that full-day programs are beneficial for our English language learners and our children who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We also know that full-day programs have more time to incorporate play into their schedule, which we see as incredibly important.” (April 13, 2022)

Why child’s play is serious business in early education

  • “Common sense tells us that humans learn better when they are internally motivated. We learn more when we enjoy the learning process,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association. “Play improves memory. It allows children to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. Children learn high-level, intangible concepts such as the laws of gravity, conservation of liquids/mass, mathematical concepts such as more vs. less, all through hands-on, interactive play.”

  • “Play is an outlet for a child to relieve stress by focusing on something enjoyable,” Gorback said. “Young children need to be given the gift of time to gain the important interpersonal skills that they did not develop during isolation and lockdown. Caregivers should intentionally provide opportunities for play.”

  • ​“Early childhood educators who focus on academics so intensely that play gets lost are missing the opportunity to build positive relationships with their students and the opportunity to create intentional play experiences,” Gorback said. “Early childhood educators who create ample opportunities for play allow their students to grow their interpersonal skills, develop higher-level vocabulary and understand their worlds in deep and meaningful ways.” (Dec 8, 2021)

Benefits of early math experiences add up

  • ​“Young learners need to be introduced to math concepts in developmentally appropriate ways,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association. “They need opportunities to play with numbers and other mathematical concepts. Adults should make a habit of intentionally discussing developmentally appropriate math concepts every day.”

  • Fun is key when introducing children to the world of numbers, experts say. Small children may enjoy counting blocks while older kids can practice doubling or halving recipe ingredients. Gorback also suggests counting aloud and playing board games to make math a part of everyday life. You can also put out a bowl of favorite snacks (think Cheerios or Goldfish crackers) and have the child roll the dice and then put that number of treats onto their plate. (Nov 23, 2021)

ABC 10 San Diego

In-Depth: Public school enrollment plummets during pandemic: State Officials are hopeful numbers will rebound

  • ​“While declining enrollment is alarming because we are so passionate about early childhood education, we also know that you need to make your decision that's best for your family,” said Gennie Gorback, the president of the California Kindergarten Association. The organization is a non-profit which advocates for “high quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood education.”

  • Gorback said part of the huge decline in enrollment was likely because kindergarten is not required in California. The organization advocates for mandatory and full day kindergarten. (August 26, 2021)

California Schools Magazine

Where Have All the Kindergarteners Gone? 

  • ​“Kindergarten is a child’s bridge into elementary school,” said Gorback. “Before learning phonics, a child must have phonological awareness skills. That means they have to be able to identify and manipulate the sounds in words. In order to prepare a child’s brain for reading, teachers plan intentional games and lead specific songs to target the phonological needs of their students.”

  • Gorback said she hopes that all the difficulties communities have faced and overcome will lead to a renewed focus in the Legislature on minimizing class sizes and increasing mental health and other support systems for everyone in the education community. (Summer 2021)

How California’s new universal transitional kindergarten program will be rolled out

  • The bill provides many of these quality assurances, such as starting with a ratio of 1 adult for every 12 children in the 2022-23 school year and segueing to one adult for every 10 children by the 2023-24 school year.
    “That is fantastic. If we were able to accomplish those ratios, it would be wonderful,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association and a former TK teacher. “Lower teacher-to-student ratios that allow for personalized attention are incredibly important. So much of a TK teacher’s job requires the teacher to individualize the education for each student. You get to know each child’s personality and developmental needs in a much deeper way.” 

  • “Playtime is the most important part of a TK student’s day,” Gorback said. “They should have ample opportunities for open-ended play both in the classroom and outdoors. Great TK teachers plan intentional play opportunities that address their students’ specific needs. There is no such thing as ‘just play’ in the TK classroom. Play is where the learning happens.” (July 12, 2021)

Should Kindergarten be Mandatory in Kindergarten?

  • ​“We believe that all children have a right to a developmentally appropriate early childhood education. Even though the numbers of children who were skipping kindergarten were relatively low pre-pandemic, we want to bring that number down closer to zero,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association. “If changing the status of kindergarten to mandatory helps more children to access high quality early education, then it is absolutely worth it.” (March 3, 2021)

Drop in kindergarten enrollment amid pandemic leads to growing concern about widening achievement gap

  • "Early childhood education is incredibly important for a child's development," explained Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association and early childhood educator based in Orinda. "They must learn how to 'do school,' meaning being a citizen in a classroom, following a teacher's directions and developing problem solving skills."

  • Gorback said that kindergarten also offers opportunities for children to develop their fine motor skills, which come into play in areas like learning to tie their shoes and down the road, learning to compose long paragraphs. 

  • The time spent in early education settings is also integral to strengthening communications skills, especially important for students who come from households where English is not the primary language.

  • "English language learners (ELLs) greatly benefit from being immersed in a space where English is the primary language spoken," Gorback explained. (Feb 17, 2021)

San Francisco Chronicle

California's low kindergarten attendance creates first-grade problem

  • “Learning through play is so important for brain development and social emotional development,” said Gennie Gorback, president-elect of the California Kindergarten Association.​ Kids who have never gone to preschool or been in an organized setting need that kindergarten time to learn how to “do school,” said Gorback, a former preschool and transitional kindergarten teacher whose own child will start kindergarten in the fall. “Things like how to sit crisscross applesauce, raise hands to get called on or to form a line. “You don’t naturally know that, it takes time.” (Feb 15, 2021)

Rising Star of Kidlit - Gennie Gorback

  • "When I interact with children, in my roles as an educator or as a mother, I am very silly! I laugh A LOT. Half of my finished manuscripts are humorous stories meant to appeal to young kids. The other half of my writing leans toward more heartfelt stories. I am very interested in children’s social-emotional development. I enjoy guiding children to recognize their own emotions and the emotions of others. I help children work through BIG feelings and develop strategies for managing their emotional responses. My heartfelt stories are about the main character experiencing an emotion that the reader may have also experienced. I want my stories to inspire the reader and their grown-ups to talk about emotions and emotional responses." (Feb 1, 2021)

​Fearing distance learning, many parents opt for preschool instead of kindergarten​

  • “We encourage developmentally appropriate movement, developmentally appropriate learning through play. We value the arts and the interpersonal relationships that come with the kindergarten year.” (Sept. 15, 2020)

How to set up an obstacle course for your two-year old (Summer, 2020)

  • ​"[T]his kind of course is also a pre-reading activity. By drawing a line or design in chalk and assigning it a movement, you are demonstrating to your child that lines and marks have specific meanings. This is part of the “concepts of print,” the mechanics of how reading works: the direction of text (left to right, right to left, top to bottom), how to flip pages, and a wide range of other pre-reading behaviors."

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