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Family and Parents—Frequently Asked Questions

To ask a transition question, please contact Lynn Amwake at terrific@serve.org. We will respond to questions as we receive them and post the questions and answers here.

Q: “Why is it so important that I register my child early? What difference does it make?”
A: Each year the school’s funding and staffing are affected by the total number of students enrolled. When you register early, schools can better prepare for your children. The school population can be more accurately predicted. This allows class assignments to be made earlier. The most common barrier to transitions as reported by kindergarten teachers (NCEDL, 1999) is that class lists are generated too late. When teachers know who will be enrolled in their classroom they can begin to make contact with the families and children. Most important, early registration may mean less stress for you, your child, and the school.

Q: “My child worries about the transition to kindergarten constantly. Is this normal? What should I do?”
A: Encourage your child to talk with you about her fears. Try to answer her questions about the changes she will face. If you don’t have the answers, contact your new school for help. You should try and take your child to visit the school ahead of time. Walk around inside and outside the school with your child. Point out exciting things that the kindergarten children are doing. Some schools allow parents and children to eat in the cafeteria. This would be an excellent opportunity to familiarize your child with the school. If your child continues to have a great deal of anxiety, contact the school and see if you can talk to the school guidance counselor about your child.

Q: “What if I am unhappy with my child’s teacher and want to have him moved to another class?”
A: Ideally, work out your problem with the teacher directly. If you have tried that and you are still not satisfied, call or write the principal. Let her know what your concerns are and that you have unsuccessfully addressed them with the teacher. Consider the suggestions of the principal. If you are not satisfied with the principal’s solution, you may contact the local school district office to file a complaint.

Q: “My sister says that it is very difficult to get a child registered for a school that is not in the designated boundaries. I work on the other side of town and need to have my child go to a school nearby in case of an emergency. How can I find out more about this?
A: Public schools have a procedure to follow for request of an out-of-boundary placement. You need to complete and submit a school assignment form indicating a legitimate reason for requesting the new assignment. The school system will notify you about whether this request is approved or denied. Some school systems do have free choice of schools as long as a particular school is not overcrowded. Check with your school board office to see if you are in a county that allows this.

Q: “Parents hear a lot about ‘readiness,’ but what does it really mean? How do I know if my child is ‘ready?’ How does anyone know?”
A: Being "ready" for kindergarten means, quite simply, that your child is able to learn what will be taught in the kindergarten he will attend and can function comfortably with teachers and other children in that setting. When parents think about kindergarten readiness, they sometimes focus too much on academics, but the skills that define readiness are much broader than knowing letters, numbers, and how to count. To be ready for kindergarten, a child needs to have a positive attitude toward starting school, some understanding of why he is there, and be receptive to learning new things and making new friends.

Q: “My friends told me that kindergarten is just playschool. She says all they do is play. How can I try and get the schools to teach my child something?”
A: Young children learn best through play that has a purpose and is meaningful to them. When children are actively involved in fun and interesting activities they can learn a great deal. Some examples of what children are learning as they play are:

  • In the block center, children are exploring spatial relations, learning how to work and plan together, learning about shapes and sizes, learning problem-solving techniques, and developing large and small muscle control.
  • In the dramatic play area, children are engaged in communication with others, acting out familiar roles and situations, developing self-confidence, and learning social skills.

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