Monday, May 14, 2012

Kindergarten assignments have been made...what next?

For most of last week, I left it on the field, hence few posts here. This week will probably be similar but I will attempt to post when possible.

A couple of weeks ago, families of incoming kindergartners received letters from PPSD informing them of their children's placements. I am tuned into this mostly through my connection as a long-time parent at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, where I help school staff and students (fifth graders are the tour guides at King) to offer tours to prospective families. We have had a flurry of interest from newly assigned families and we've done our best to accommodate their desire to tour King and learn more. Though I am sure there's similar interest all over town, I am not at all sure whether people have the opportunity to see the schools where their kids will be. Ideally, it would be great for elementary schools to offer some kind of open house/orientation during this time of year, and as part of the PPSD Parent Advisory Council, I'll work on whether it's possible to build that into next year's schedule.

This is happening now because the district made K assignments far earlier than in years past. I haven't been tracking in any formal way, but I know that generally, families don't find out until June, often near or past the end of school, where their kids will be the following year. PPSD has been working on tuning up the registration process and while I have heard that there is still plenty of room for improvement, the district should get a shout out, which this is, for getting word to parents in a speedier way about K assignments.

If your kid is going to another school and you want to take a peek inside, please note, as I am sure you already have if you've read this far, that there is no formal program within PPSD for doing that kind of thing. Getting access to schools during this time of year is handled on a school by school basis and it's a crazy busy time of year. For sure, you should be able to check out your kid's assigned school but at this point, you may not be able to. I'd definitely call the school, and see if there's anything they can do for you. If you can't get a tour, you may want to ask for the name of a parent who's willing to talk with you. PTO leaders are usually willing to do this (sorry, fellow PTO people, for potentially putting yet more on your plates)

More things you can do as an incoming family:

  • Ask for the phone/email of the PTO president and be in touch with her/him to ask to be put on any email list they might have. Some schools send weekly emails to families and that's a good way to get a sense of what's doing at a school.
  • Ask about whether you can attend an upcoming PTO meeting or other school event.
  • Ask whether the school has a Facebook group you can join. Some do. Here's a link to the MLK PTO Facebook group:
  • Ask whether it's possible to set up a meeting with the principal or assistant principal to learn more about the school. Again, crazy busy time of year, etc., so it may be tricky. But if you have specific concerns or questions, don't just sit on them. Pick up the phone and get the info that you need.
As the mom of a kindergartner this year, I will say that it's been a super year. Henry is reading, and confident about math, and has lots of new friends. He's had a terrific year and is eagerly anticipating first grade. I wish I could guarantee it will be the same for you - can't of course. But I can wish you all the best, and whether this is your first or fifth kid heading off to kindergarten, do what you can to be involved not only with your kid but also with her/his school, not only for your own kid but also for all of the kids at that school and in the district. They need you!  But first, enjoy the rest of preschool and the summer. 

PS: For what it's worth, we'll be doing one more tour of MLK this Thursday, 5/17, at 9:30am. Please spread the word if you know people who'd like to see the school.

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