ICSD to host program for kindergarten parents later this month

Itawamba County school buses roll out. (File photo by Adam Armour)

Itawamba County school buses roll out. (File photo by Adam Armour)

News Coordinator

Forget about college, it’s when kids leave home for kindergarten that’s the real heart-breaker.

Itawamba County School District curriculum/parent coordinator Sheryl Ewing guarantees that on the first day of school, it’s usually not just the kids who are breaking down into sniffling, wet-eyed fits.

“It’s hard for the parents,” she said. “Reality hits them: My baby’s in school.”

That’s tough, but the district’s looking to make the process of prepping for the first day of school just a little bit easier, or at the very least less cumbersome. This year, ICSD is hosting something new called

“Transition to Kindergarten Night,” an hour-long program that will acquaint parents with the expectations of their child’s first school year, give them some tips on simple fun and educational activities to work on during the summer, walk them through the registration process and introduce them to their little one’s new principal and teachers.

The program is set for Thursday, March 30, Tuesday, April 4, at 6 p.m. at the Itawamba Attendance Center gym. Note, however, that the event is for all Itawamba County kindergarten students. Representatives from every elementary school in the district will be on-hand to meet parents and students.

The program should wrap up by 7 p.m. or so.

Although individual schools have held similar programs in the past, this is the first time the district as a whole has hosted a kindergarten transition event. Organizers are hoping turnout is strong and that parents find the program useful.

“We want everyone to participate,” Ewing said. “We want to reach an open the dialogue between parents and our schools. If we can start early, we’ll be ahead of the game.”

The game she’s referring to would be education, in which each player has at least two coaches: parents and teachers. It’s important both work together from Day One.

One of the main goals of the transition event is to foster the relationship between parents and their child’s school. Successful students, even in the earliest days of school, learn both in the classroom and at home. It’s important parents trust their child’s teachers, and vice versa.

Paige Cresap, who teaches kindergarten at IAC, said it’s easy for first-time parents to underestimate their importance in early education and to become overwhelmed when their kids start coming home with tricky assignments.

“Kindergarten is a very parent-oriented grade,” she said. “Some of our parents probably don’t realize just how hard kindergarten is.”

Fellow kindergarten teacher Charla Stark, of Mantachie Elementary School, nodded in agreement.

“We hit the ground running pretty fast,” she said. “This time is so important.”

It’s not all naps and playtime anymore. By the time kids leave kindergarten, they’re expected to be proficient readers. The more parents help them reach that goal, the more prepared their children will be.

Fortunately, prepping their kids for the first day of school is relatively easy:

“The best thing parents can do with their child is to have one-on-one time with them every day,” Stark said.

Read a book or two, she suggested, or walk through the house naming objects. Simple things can have a big impact on the growing mind.

In the end, that time will pay dividends in a child’s academic success. It starts Day One.

“Kindergarten is so important. It’s building a strong foundation,” Ewing said. “We have seen over and over that the kids who are most successful in kindergarten are those who get support at home.”

She’s hoping the transition program will drive that point home, and make Itawamba County’s latest batch of kindergarten parents enthusiastic about the prospect of the first step their little ones’ academic journey.

“We’re trying to build that excitement for the first day of school,” Ewing said. “Hopefully, it will start to ease some of their fears for both the students and teachers.”

Don’t forget parents.

Twitter: @admarmr

About Adam Armour

Adam Armour has been writing and taking photographs for "The Itawamba County Times" since 2005. His words and pictures have earned 18 Mississippi Press Association Awards, including several "Best of" category recognitions. He has written and independently published one novel and is currently working on a second.

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