Having your whole school graduate every year is a big task. When it is a child’s first year of school it is critical we get it right-every time. Because of this #WoodsonK has routines upon routines for support staff and families with this big day that we practice multiple times.
- Step One: Kindergarten Registration. In April we host 5 sessions of Kindergarten Registration for prospective families. Parents turn in forms, register for school calendars, and set up August assessment times before heading to our gym for a 20 minute talk while their children are with teachers experiencing what K looks like (including the famous bus ride). During the session I make sure to explain what the first day of school looks like. From the importance of riding the bus, to the rationale as to why parents are asked to say their goodbyes outside and not in the classroom, families have rational behind the reason for our decisions at the school.
- Step Two: May Family Night. Before they leave in April they receive a “save the date” card for the Family Night in May. Parents of incoming K students and their child come back and visit with current K students and their parents in an informal environment. They can ask questions of teachers and staff while also experiencing the different school environments.
- Step Three: Woodson Summer Videos. Facebook is a very critical tool in our school communication. We have used this as a way to share information throughout the summer in preparation for kindergarten. Each week we push out a video from our blog: https://packersintraining.wordpress.com/ that models kindergarten readiness skills by staff in our building. Parents have tools at their fingertips for no-cost ways to support summer learning while getting to see the staff that their children will work with everyday. From tying your shoe to increasing oral language in family car rides, each video was created with kindergarten in mind and offers families ways to engage with their little learners.
- Step Four: Kindergarten Assessments. In our district we have what is called a Mass Registration. One day in July for our modified calendar students, and for two days in August for our traditional calendar students, families come and register their children for the PreK-12 programs that their children will be entering into. At the kindergarten center we use this process to complete our kindergarten assessments. Families check in and the child goes with a teacher into a room off the gym floor while parents finish the registration process. At that time staff is available to answer questions about the upcoming start to the school year and connect a face to the school their son/daughter is about to start.
- Step Five: Kindergarten Conferences. About two weeks after Kindergarten Assessments parent receive a card in the mail (trust me it is scrapbook worthy) with the name of the teacher and time for back to school conference. We hold these in a group format and families review a power point that has been created to walk families through the first days of school. After the presentation all attendees actually walk the school day-including arrival and dismissal locations so they can ‘see’ what will happen the next week on their child’s first day.
Staff, students, families, district leadership and the local community’s first impression on the first day of PreK/K is essential to get right to live the mission and vision of your school. And we hope with these rules to live by we are doing our very best to live up to all those we serve.
Keep Dreaming BIG for our LITTLEST Learners, Rule #3 tomorrow.