And They’re Off! Preparing Kindergarteners for the Big Day

Thousands of children are entering kindergarten this week prepared to learn and succeed.  But this new beginning is actually the culmination of years of preparation by the region’s high quality early childhood programs to ensure they are ready.

United Way partners with 61 community-based organizations to provide over 14,000 children with high-quality early education and care that promotes early literacy and social skills.  These partners also provide intensive supports to help children with learning challenges stay on track and resources for parents and caregivers to support the healthy development of their children.

Starting kindergarten is a big transition for any family, and early childhood programs take extra steps to ensure a smooth transition:

Community Teamwork Inc., in Lowell, plans field trips for the children to the schools and focuses their curriculum on what happens in kindergarten – making new friends, riding the bus and identifying the various feelings children can have in the transition.

East End House in Cambridge coordinates a Family Reading Program throughout the summer. Each week, children take home three new books to be read with their family, and at least one book per week is themed around going to kindergarten.

Rochester Child Care Center hosts “K-Ready Kids Night,” which features the Superintendent of Schools to speak with parents about the importance of parent involvement and open communication to prepare children for a successful year.

Greater Lawrence Community Action Center hosts a “Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Night” where children receive a preschool diploma, an “I’m Going to Kindergarten” ribbon and books to take home. Parents also receive a packet with ideas, suggestions and resources to help support their children during the transition, and information nights are held in partnership with Lawrence Public Schools.

Now that the big day is here, what can parents and caregivers do to support their children?  We asked our early childhood partners for their advice to parents of children entering kindergarten this year for the first time.  Here’s what they shared:

“Your child will take their cues from you. Staying positive in front of your child, as well as within earshot of your child, will go a long way in helping your child feel relaxed and confident.” – Matt LiPuma, Family Nurturing Center.

“Be involved in your child’s education and participate in parent events. It’s good for the teachers and administrators to know who you are just in case you need to discuss more serious issues.” – Deborah Linett, Community Action, Inc.

“Talk to your children about their first day at school, remind and assure them that you will see them later and communicate with teachers throughout the year so you can support your child at school and at home.” –  Shalisa Lamb, United South End Settlements.

“We encourage parents to be as involved as they can be in their child’s education and volunteer in the schools.” – Arlene Ramos, Project Hope.

Every step of the way matters.  Together, we’re planning for future success.