A couple of years ago we received a report that over 60% of our kindergarten population comes to our school with little to no structured preschool experiences and/or kindergarten readiness skills. YIKES! That calculates into a huge challenge when you look at what faces children now (whether you like it or not) as they enter kindergarten.
Fast forward to early 2018. We are plugging along, working away, and adjusting to their needs as they come to us each year. We are a hard working team and always determined to meet our kids where they are and help them soar. But the challenge never went away. What do you do?
You find solutions. We normally find solutions once they get to us, but we never thought deep enough to catch them before they even stepped foot in our doors. So now what? Well it’s easy to complain about it…or you just jump in and shake up the norm, try something new and see what happens. You can’t gauge if it works or not if you’re not even willing to try!
So instead of waiting….we are reaching. We have planned our first ever Kindergarten Orientation. Now I know many will read this and tell me that they have been doing that for years, but we haven’t. We have just sat and waited and then swam upstream come August. We often talk about empowering students, but we cannot forget in the process to also look at our families as students of education as well. This is a very different world both in education and in general compared to how we grew up, yet why as educators aren’t we just as passionate about educating families, our students #1 supporters, just as much as we are educating their children?
Maybe it’s the kindergarten teacher in me, but I am very close to most of my students’ families during their year of kindergarten. I am often the first person they ever trust outside of their inner circle to care for, teach, and grow their child for today and the future. I feel like it is such a privilege to be in this position, and I also feel like it is my duty to make sure to help them grow as parents and caretakers as well. We need to empower our families, and not just on report card comments every trimester. We need to reach out to them, teach them, give suggestions, and just be present. We can’t expect someone to navigate it on their own.
So this May we are having our first orientation. We are reaching out, making phone calls, handing out flyers, and spreading the word. It’s a grassroots effort, but we are determined to make it work. We want families to see what kindergarten looks like, hear ways to help their child NOW so they can be ready to succeed in the Fall, and take hold of our soon to be kiddos before they step on our campus the First Day of School. We want to embrace our future kids and bring them into our rooms, even if it’s just for an hour. We want our community to know that we are a team, and even before you finish your paper work and finalize registration, know we want nothing more than your child to thrive and succeed.
Can’t make it? We’ve got you covered! We created 4 page handouts for each family to get at registration with ideas and suggestions. We have a website with links, pictures, and ideas.
The time came to re-frame the problem and at least attempt for a better solution by thinking inside the box and then reaching out.
And even if only one family comes, and one family is touched, moved, and inspired it will make it all worth it because before you can walk a mile, you have to take your fist step.