Roundin’ up next year’s kinders!

It’s springtime, and that means kindergarten round-up in my neck of the woods.  Our district takes four full days to meet, greet and screen all the incoming “5 before November 1st” kinders for the fall.  Michigan recently passed a new age cut off for kindergarten.  In the past, it was 5 before December 1st, but, over the next several years, that cut off birth date will continue to be pushed back a month at a time until the new cut off day is September 1st.

This year’s kindergarten round-up is bitter sweet for me personally, because it’s the last one I go through as a mom.  My own pre-k honey is heading off to kindergarten this fall.  Now while he’ll be right in my own school with me, there’s still something a little sad about seeing that last one go through the process and head off to school all day every day in the fall.

He, of course, is rip raring ready to conquer the kindergarten world.

On the day of round-up, each child is welcomed to our school with a name badge and, of course, of pile of papers for mom and dad to complete.

This is the time we can collect birth certificates, check immunization records and get all the paperwork done that is necessary for registration.    While parents are completing those papers, one of our teachers escorts the child to a room where they will ‘play some games’ with different teacher-screener.  The screening process can really be anything that your district finds useful to make a good recommendation for placement and also to get information that will help when dividing students up and creating class lists.

When asked to draw a picture of a person, he drew a picture of me.  The hair is dead-on, but I would have loved to have more of an hour glass rather than a pair shaped body. 

Our system is  a very thorough process and takes anywhere from 15 minutes to a half and hour to complete.  It just depends on the student.  The great thing is that once it’s done, we have a very good snapshot of the student.  Parents often have this assumption that it’s a pass-fail kind of ‘assessment,’ but it’s not. The intent is really to find the best placement for their student to find success. 

There are many areas that we consider before making a recommendation at our school.  Of course, there are some basic skills we like to see, but social and emotional maturity are often just as important as their academic readiness for the rigors of kindergarten.  We are fortunate in our little elementary school to have junior-kindergarten classrooms (some schools call this young 5s or transitional kindergarten) as well as regular kindergarten classes.  Both allow students to attend all day everyday.  Junior kindergarten just allows for a slower pace, smaller classes and time for growth. That time is so important, especially for a child who may not be mature enough to handle the rigors of kindergarten.

I put my own son who is in kindergarten this year, in junior kindergarten last year because, although he was academically ready for kindergarten, he was deathly shy, insecure, immature and just NOT ready for kindergarten.  After his year in that classroom, he is a leader in his classroom and excelling in school. He was fortunate enough to have a teacher who differentiated so that, although he was not mature enough to handle kindergarten, she was still able to challenge him academically and keep him interested and engaged in school.  It really is a wonderful option for students who just need more time to get themselves ready academically, socially or emotionally for kindergarten.

Ok, so back to round-up . . . once the student is finished with the screening process, it is looked over by our kindergarten/junior kindergarten staff and a recommendation is made.  Then a teacher, either a junior kindergarten or kindergarten, meets with the parents and student to go over the recommendation and talks a bit about what school will be like in the fall, when classes starts, what a typical day might be like and answers any questions.  Students get to check out all the different classrooms, take a tour of the building and check out the playground.  It’s an exciting day for them, and we love having the opportunity to get a peek at the new recruits coming in the fall.

So how’s your kindergarten round up process?  Drop me a line if you’d like to share.

Marsha Moffit McGuire

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