As a parent, thinking about where to send your child to Kindergarten can be overwhelming. Local public school? Charter? Private? And that’s not even factoring the emotional impact of your baby being a kindergartener. How did they get so old? (And does that mean that we’re old?!)
While there’s a lot that goes into your Kindergarten decision, there’s also a lot to be said about making that decision early.
Portland-metro area Coordinated Care Organizations and Early Learning Hubs are urging parents to sign their kids up for kindergarten before June 1st as part of a community-wide campaign called Kindergarten Counts. And for good reason. Early kindergarten sign up helps schools, parents and your kids.
For schools, having a general sense of the incoming class size is incredibly helpful in giving them a heads up about what sorts of resources they will need for the coming year. Because school offices close during the summer, having information about the number of kids coming by June 1st is key.
For parents, it can help connect us to the school. Through information nights, informal gatherings, social media support groups—it can help anchor parents, get us more involved and better prepare us for the year ahead.
And especially for kids, early knowledge of where they will be starting school is helpful in what can be a tricky transition.
Annette Dieker, Health & Education Systems Coordinator at FamilyCare Health, told PDX Parent that even for kids who have been in a school environment prior to kindergarten, the transition can be intense—all of a sudden “there are big kids around, a big playground, a cafeteria—that can be pretty scary!”
But many schools can help ease that transition for kids who have already signed up for kindergarten. “A lot of schools have great activities so that kids can get a taste of what kindergarten will be like,” said Dieker. These activities can extend to parents, too, allowing them to connect with other parents and have a better sense of what to expect. But if schools don’t know who is coming, they can’t connect these families.
The Kindergarten Counts campaign is emphasizing the importance of early registration for everyone, but especially for those who many not be aware that early registration is an option—for instance, those who are new to the area or for families with limited English proficiency. Outreach materials are available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Somali, Russian, Arabic, Chuukese, Marshallese, Mixteco and English.
You can read more about the program here.