If we want children to be ready for kindergarten, we must be certain that the environments and systems we create are responsive to the unique developmental needs of not only preschoolers but infants, toddlers and their families. Dr. Terri Rose ‘Emotional Readiness: How Early Experiences and Mental Health Predict School Success’.
Moving into the K-12 system is a big milestone for students and their families. It starts their journey of lifelong learning and building relationships around multiple stakeholders in the educational system. Kindergarten registration is a key point to connect with families and supporting their first few moments in the K-12 world are safe, positive, and meaningful.
At Woodson last year we revamped our registration based upon personal experiences and feedback from families. No longer was it a 60 minute ‘talk at’ but 15 minutes of ‘big picture’ and then hands on activities that families could work on throughout the summer.
Parents were first introduced to current what kindergarten looks like now through a video created by the Minnesota Department of Education:
After that overview I went through the make up of teams in the building and how we create small communities of over 350 kindergartners so everyone feels like they have a place in our school. We spent a little bit of time going over the details of enrollment and immunization information and then we get into the fun stuff.
Last spring we worked with local community members to create videos modeling skills that would support K Readiness. For example our local librarian read to our high school soccer coach. Our former Mayor played a game with one of our Sudanese Success coaches. Families love seeing this familiar faces engaging in school readiness activities and I love being able to show families that we as a local community want only the best for their child.
Along with those videos we give every family a readiness bag with activities and activity cards that they can work with their children on throughout the spring and summer months. Below are the templates we used to create the note cards in each K Readiness Bag.
We also encouraged families to come back for a Family Night three weeks after registration in which they could tour the school, meet staff, and talk with current Kindergarten parents about their experiences at Woodson.
According to NAESP’s Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies For Effective Principal Practice strategies/indicators of creating a Hub of PreK-3 Learning for Families and Communities includes:
- Development a welcoming environment and sense of belonging.
- Provide meaningful transitions between preschool and elementary school.
- Develop out-of-school and summer learning opportunities for children. and
- Blend and braid funding to maximize resource opportunities.
At Woodson we hope we are creating opportunities to support these indicators and support all learners (parents and educators included) in transitioning to kindergarten.
Keep dreaming BIG for our LITTLEST learners,