FEBRUARY 2018 SUPERINTENDENT UPDATE

Ready or not for kindergarten 

February 20, 2018

It might seem strange to be reading about kindergarten readiness in February, but soon (March 1) Battle Ground Public Schools will be asking parents to enroll their children in kindergarten for the fall of 2018.


Getting an accurate count of potential kindergarten enrollment is crucially important for a school district. Having a clear picture of student headcount lets us know how many kindergarten classrooms each primary school will need next fall and—more importantly—how many teachers, education assistants, and reading and math specialists each school will need to hire. 


We begin this “forecasting” process in the spring for all grades as a starting point for creating next year’s budget. For grades other than kindergarten we can get a pretty good picture of next year’s enrollment by rolling up the numbers at each grade level. For example, looking at this year’s third grade class gives us a pretty good idea of next year’s fourth grade enrollment. Predicting kindergarten enrollment is much more difficult, as there is not a prior year’s class to go by. Consequently, it is crucial that we get an accurate prediction of kindergarten headcount from parents who enroll their children in the spring.


Another crucial component of kindergarten enrollment is a parent’s decision as to whether their child is ready. Washington State law says that any child who turns five by August 31 is eligible for kindergarten, yet schooling is not mandatory in this state until a child turns eight.This creates a fairly large window of time for parents to decide when their child should enter the public school system.


Fortunately, there are many resources available to parents to help them make the decision as to whether their child is ready for kindergarten. One particular guide we suggest parents use comes from Support for Early Learning and Families, or SELF (selfwa.org). This brochure, developed by the Clark County School Readiness Task Force and further refined by the Southwest Washington Early Learning Regional Coalition, lists several categories of development such as Communicating (Literacy); About me and my family and culture; Building relationships; Touching, seeing, hearing and moving around; Growing up healthy; and Learning about my world. Each category includes specific skills as indicators of kindergarten readiness. In addition, there are suggested activities parents can try with their child to better prepare them for kindergarten or perhaps create a smoother transition from home to school.


The brochure also contains information about resources parents can access to help make the transition to kindergarten a little easier. The brochure aligns with the Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines for children ages 4 to 5. A downloadable copy of these guidelines is online at www.k12.wa.us/EarlyLearning.


Ultimately, the decision about whether a child is ready for kindergarten is up to each parent or guardian. Once you determine that your child will attend kindergarten, experienced kindergarten teachers recommend talking with your child about the first day of school. Address any fears or concerns your child may have and reassure him/her that everything will be alright. Keep a positive attitude. If you as a parent are excited about the first day of school, chances are your child will be too.


Kindergarten enrollment will soon be available online for all Battle Ground primary schools. If you are unsure of which school your child will  attend, please contact our district office and someone will help you determine your attendance area.  As with all districts in Washington, you will need copies of your child’s birth certificate and required immunizations to complete the enrollment process. Each of our primary schools will have informational open houses in the spring for parents of kindergartners, so be sure to visit our district website or call your local school to find out dates and times.


We know that sending a child to school for the first time can be a stressful experience for both students and parents alike. Let me allay your anxiety. We have some amazing teachers and school administrators in our district who can help you get through the process and make it a positive one for you and your child. Battle Ground Public Schools is committed to providing a quality learning experience  where the safety and well-being of every student is our priority. 


If there is anything we can do to help make the decision of kindergarten readiness less stressful, please do not hesitate to contact our schools or district office and speak to someone about your concerns. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your family’s educational journey. It is a mission we consider vitally important and second to none in creating great communities and future productive citizens.


Sincerely,


Mark Ross, Superintendent

Battle Ground Public Schools

ross.mark@battlegroundps.org