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Forum Helps Parents Prepare for Kindergarten Next Year

More than 300 parents recently attended a kindergarten information series to prepare their preschoolers for next year.

Hundreds of parents got a chance to hear what to expect during their child's kindergarten experience during two recent kindergarten information sessions this month.

Held for the past three years, the forums are a way for parents to hear from school officials what to expect their child to encounter during kindergarten this fall, and how to prepare for the transition, said Assistant Superintendent Howard Thiery III.

"It's really just a first meeting for parents to get their feet on the ground, meet the principals, meet me and get all the hand outs they need," Thiery said. "Parents who may be nervous get introduced to the program and feel accepted."

Kindergarten registration lasts from late February though early March, and parent orientation happens in May, said Thiery.

Thiery said one of the most common questions parents ask is whether their child is ready for kindergarten, as well as concerns about busing.

"I always tell them that's a decision only they can make," Thiery said. "If they want to know more about kindergarten, however, I tell them they should contact the principal and they can ask questions and take a tour of the school."

Plantsville Elementary School Principal Patricia Corvello said parents seem to be more proactive and involved in preparing their child for kindergarten in recent years.

"For example one parent last night asked when we'd post the kindergarten reading list online," Corvello said. "I think parents are a litte more aware about academics and social expectations based on the questions they're asking."

Corvello said it greatly helps if incoming kindergarteners know some letters, basic counting and can recognized their names. Thiery and Corvello emphasized that kindergarten, like all other grade levels, has become more demanding and structured academically over the years. Any preparation parents can give their preschooler will help even the playing field when they enter school.

"It's not the kindergarten most of us remember, it's an academic grade level now," Thiery said. "The good part of that is the way kindergarteners learn is still by dancing, and singing and rhyming, but now there are academic goals: they're singing for a reason, learning while they do it."

Corvello emphasized that parents shouldn't worry about their child being up to par for kindergarten, but prepare as much as they see appropriate.

"We don't expect parents to teach them kindergarten, we just want to get them ready," Corvello said. "We'll do the rest."

Another big question resting on the minds of soon-to-be kindergarten parents is whether parents can choose a.m. or p.m. kindergarten. Thiery said schools can rarely make changes, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

The district creates the kindergarten schedule based on the most efficient bus routes. He said full-day kindergarten would be the best option, but it's not fiscally possible.

"All day kindergarten is something the district feels would potentially benefit many kids, but it doesn't appear we have the resources or space at this time," Thiery said.

Southington follows the Connecticut State Department of Education's benchmarks for kindergarten readiness. Some examples are:

·       Hold a book upright
·       Recognize and count up to ten items
·       Identify letters of the alphabet
·       Recognize the numbers 1-10
·       Recognize letter sounds
·       Sort items by "same" and "different
·       Recognize, copy and print his first name
·       Sort objects from smallest to largest

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