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Help children get a smart start in school during August

KindergartenerWhen: August

What: The first day of kindergarten is a milestone that many parents face with both pride and worry. Marking the start of their young child’s first steps into education, kindergarten provides children the foundation they need to grow into smart, well-rounded adults. Good preparation is vital to a smooth transition, as kindergarten requires children to adapt to whole new social interactions, schedules and learning requirements. Before children head off to school in the fall, help them prepare during Get Ready for Kindergarten Month, celebrated all August.

Background: Get Ready for Kindergarten Month was started by children’s book author and illustrator Katie Davis as a way to help parents, teachers and children better prepare for kindergarten and make the transition into school easier. The most recent U.S. Census data found that more than 4 million children are enrolled in kindergarten, most of them in public schools. Their parents and caretakers face a host of requirements before enrollment, and kindergarten teachers expect the average student to enter the class with a certain level of social, academic and self-care skills. The month aims to educate parents on these expectations while also sharing the common anxieties and worries their own children may have about starting school.

Story Pitch: This month is a great opportunity for school gear manufacturers and learning supply companies to promote their goods. Kids going off to kindergarten for the first time need supplies like crayons, backpacks, and notebooks, so manufacturers should promote their best products for the young students. Many organizations also collect and distribute school supplies for underprivileged children or poorly funded schools, and these groups should use the month to drive donations and gain support. Additionally, organizations assisting schoolchildren should raise awareness of free and reduced-cost lunch programs. Many kindergartens are eligible for these programs, but some parents whose children are entering school for the first time may be uncertain about qualifications. Health organizations should also address how parents should prepare their children for kindergarten, which can require vaccinations, toilet training, and hygiene skills like hand washing.

Story Hook: Many school districts provide half-day kindergarten, where students attend school either in the morning or the afternoon. However, full-day kindergarten is catching on as research finds educational benefits, like improved math, reading and social skills, as well as benefits for caregivers, who don’t need to disrupt their work schedule. How beneficial is full-day kindergartner for teachers, students and parents? Can half-day kindergarten provide the same benefits with some adjustment? What are the economic benefits or drawbacks of full-day kindergarten? Also consider the following when you make your pitch:

  • What are ways to introduce a child to kindergarten and allay any fears or anxieties about starting school?
  • When and how should parents register their children for kindergarten?
  • How can teachers and parents of kindergarteners connect and keep in touch throughout the school year? Does good parent-teacher communication help students achieve more in school?
  • In what ways is kindergarten different from preschool? What educational goals should parents know about?
  • What skills do teachers expect kindergarteners to have?

Tips: Provide contact information for an expert in education or childhood development who can talk about ways to prepare a child for kindergarten. Additionally, a teacher or school administration can speak on ways a school is improving their kindergarten or helping to prepare children before they enter the grade.

Resources:
Katie Davis’ Website
http://katiedavis.com/blog/welcome

National Education Association: Full-Day Kindergarten
(202) 833-4000
www.nea.org/home/11541.htm

National School Lunch Program
(703) 305-2062
www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch

U.S. Department of Education: Readiness for School
www2.ed.gov/parents/earlychild/ready/list.jhtml

 

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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