Now is the time of year that schools in Connecticut (and likely everywhere) start holding kindergarten orientation.
What?! You have a child entering kindergarten and you didn’t know about this? DO NOT BE ALARMED.
As it turns out – and no, no one tells you this – schools and towns do not track their populations that closely. No one knows that you have a child that is about to enter kindergarten. You need to call your local school and request a registration packet. They will not just send you one.
Yes, this was news to me too. Actually, last year I registered LP (my now kindergartener) at two different schools and attended two different orientations because we were in the process of selling our home and buying a new one in a different town. There is no penalty for doing this, no cost to you for registering a child, just be sure to call and let the school you are not attending know.
Registration packets typically include information on the school and its programs. And lots of forms for you to fill out or get filled out. Forms about your child, forms proving you live in the district, and, of course, a medical form.
DO NOT FREAK OUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A CURRENT MEDICAL FORM. LP’s birthday is in May, registration was in March. Even though you want your packet to be as complete as possible, it is perfectly acceptable to send in the registration forms without the medical form. You just need to get them the medical form before school starts. Really, I promise.
A piece of advice – scan the medical form once completed and save it as a pdf. You will need a copy of the form to register your child for camp, sports, the after school program…trust me, you will thank me that you have it handy and accessible.
So now your baby is registered and in the system. Now it is time for you to have your kindergarten visit.
Every school does this differently. In Norwalk, as the parent, I first had an appointment without LP to review the forms and meet with the school nurse, the reading specialist and the school social worker. It was a 15 minute assigned slot where I got to ask questions about the school and where they explained some of the programs and policies.
In Fairfield, LP and I had an assigned date and time to visit the school together. They split all incoming kindergarteners into two groups and had them come in with their parents for a joint orientation. LP went off to visit the classroom and be observed by the teachers, and the parents sat in the teeny tiny chairs in the library to meet the administration and get hit up by the PTA.
One part of registration/orientation that you should also figure out early if, like me, you and your spouse work full-time, is your after-school options. Gone are the long day care hours of 8-6. You are now at the mercy of the public school system hours and holidays. Many schools offer on-site after-school programs run by local organizations. Ours, at North Stratfield School in Fairfield, is managed by the Easton Community Center. Other schools will bus your child to an off-site facility for aftercare. Make sure you look into after-school programs early – they do fill up!
Stay tuned for more steps on the thrilling road to kindergarten. If you have specific questions or topics you want me to address in my next post – please comment! I don’t have all the answers, but I can at least share my experiences.