Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Last Night's Leaping into Kindergarten!

There were over 100 parents and guardians in attendance at last night's LEAPING into into Kindergarten, and yes, for more than 75% of them this is their first child to make the LEAP! It was a wonderful first step in a thoughtful transition process here in Franklin. Many thanks to the excellent Kindergarten teachers, principals and administrators for sharing this important information with families.

After a thoughtful and  comprehensive presentation (click here to view), the team sat for a Q&A session.

Here is a sample of the questions parents and guardians asked our team to clarify:

How much recess to our children get in Kindergarten?
Only 20  minutes a day, but movement is such an important part of learning at this age, Kindergarten teachers explained how they work it into the schedule throughout the day.

My child still naps, what does quiet time look like in Kindergarten?
Kindergarten teachers explained that at the beginning of the year that quiet time may be a quick nap, but that children quickly build up their stamina and quiet time may transition as the year progresses to a time for reading or doing another quiet activity.

Are the monitors on the school bus and how will you make sure my child gets to where he/she needs to be?
Many people asked about transportation, but one worry that seemed to come up is the idea that the only adult on the bus is the driver and how can the driver make sure the child gets to where he/she is supposed to be safely. The panel expressed that this too was their greatest worry, so they have put many systems in place to make sure students are safe. They shared that each child is given a tag to wear that specifically tells where and how the child gets home every day and that the process in place is very effective. They also shared that Kindergarten students are seated ONLY in the first 2-3 rows of the bus, close to the driver and separate from all other students on the bus. Also, K student are ONLY let off the bus to an approved parent or guardian.

What is the class size for kindergarten classroom and how many teachers/staff are in the room?
The panel members explained that the guidelines are to to keep K classrooms under 22 students per teacher. Although there is not a aide assigned to every kindergarten classroom, the team explained that there are a wide array of specialists that spend time in each and every classroom.

I am concerned about bullying. What is in place to make sure my child is safe?
The panel discussed the district's commitment to Responsive Classroom as a strategy to build a classroom and school community, building social skills and addressing social problems as a classroom community. 

In addition, the  team shared that the district is committed to Social Emotional Learning from preschool through graduation and the school psychologists and guidance team has developed a curriculum to specifically build students's social and problem solving skills.

Finally, the team discussed the comprehensive and thoughtful approach to investigating and understanding the root of any "meanness" or negative behavior and developing a support plan as necessary for for both the child who has been targeted and the child who was the aggressor.

Is the before and after school program run by the school? Who do we let know if we are running late to pick up or need to change who picks up?
Here in Franklin, the Lifelong Learning program offers SOLUTIONS, a before and after school program that has space in all 6 of the elementary schools. The team was able to explain how this program is separate from the schools, and families will work closely with the SOLUTIONS team to develop plans for picking up and dropping of students. There is a separate emergency contact procedure because school offices close by 4 pm, but solutions does not close until 6 pm.

Principal MacNeil from Kennedy talked about the different ways families will get to know their child's school between now and the start of school on August 30, 2017.

Principal Stark from Keller shared the importance of school safety.

Our school nurse from Davis Thayer, Patty Elias, RN, talked about the health requirements to enter Kindergarten and about the health services available in every elementary school.

Debbie Dixson, Director of Student Services, shared information on the mandated kindergarten screening and ongoing assessment process.

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