If you’ve listened closely throughout March, you may have heard the slight whimpering of moms mixed with the nervous excitement of kids. And no, I’m not talking about everyone’s feelings about spring break. I’m talking about something exclusive to the four- and five-year-olds and their moms. Yes, it’s time for Kindergarten Roundup!
Now, I’ve been through my share of roundups. I’ve participated in 11 roundups as a teacher, and two as a parent. It is exciting and scary all at the same time, no matter what role I play. As a teacher, I can’t wait to meet the new “recruits!” They are usually so excited to be heading to school, and their enthusiasm is contagious! They make me eager for the upcoming year, and I start thinking of all the new things I want to try. But I also get nervous about starting all over with a new group of kids. In March, I feel like I’ve finally settled into a routine with my current class. We are in a groove! And now I need to pass them along and start over??? Beginnings and endings are hard.
But for first-time kindergarten moms…this is ALL new and different. The calendar may say it’s time to send your BABY off to kindergarten, but maybe you aren’t quite ready. Maybe they aren’t quite ready. Maybe they are VERY ready, but you aren’t. Have you done enough to prepare them? Should you have done more? The questions and worries seem endless. I know. I had the same worries.
In an effort to hopefully ease some worries and answer some questions, here are some things to expect at a typical kindergarten roundup.
Ever since your child was born, you’ve been filling out paperwork about them. This doesn’t change with kindergarten. Most forms, such as medical records, volunteer requests, and fees won’t be due until the summer. We always request our parents fill out a “getting to know you” sheet about your child – asking basic questions about their prior schooling and social development.
Meet the Principal
While your child is hanging out with the kindergarten teachers, you will probably be with the other parents, listening to the principal sing the praises of their school. You’ll probably hear about basic school operations – a typical schedule, how the lunchroom works, dress code or uniforms, how arrival and dismissal work, before- or after-school care. Our school shows a video of the current kindergarteners in their daily routine, talking about their favorite part of kindergarten. Some schools hand out a list of things to do over the summer to help your child prepare for kindergarten, both academically and socially.
Meet the Teachers
You will get a quick chance to meet the kindergarten teachers when you drop off your child at the beginning of the session. This is where we get to have fun with your kiddo! While you’re hearing about the ins and outs of the school, your child will probably be listening to a story, playing with other kids, getting a tour of the classroom, doing arts and crafts. At my school, we also do a very quick and basic screening on each child – can they identify colors, some numbers, some letters, write their name. We also watch their social interactions and behaviors. My children’s school focused solely on watching them play and telling the kids about all the fun they’ll have in kindergarten. Schools handle this differently.
Questions and Answers
While your child is with the teachers, you will have time to ask questions of the principal and other staff in attendance. The teachers may be available after to answer more specific questions you may have. While we may not have time to talk at length, please make note of a good time to reach us if you have more to discuss. We are happy to talk with you about any questions or concerns – trust me, you will not be the first or last person to ask me something you may think is trivial. Your children are anything but trivial, and we want you to feel comfortable with sending them to kindergarten. If you have any reservations about their preparedness, this is the time to discuss them. We can discuss our observations from roundup, or even meet with your child again for further assessments.
So get excited for kindergarten roundup! Ask questions. Gather information. Make it a big deal for your child! And know they still have a few months to be your little kid before they go to big kid school.