As we move past the halfway mark of the school year, many parents of the pre-K kids are coming to terms with the end of our days at Silver Spring Day School, and the start of the big and scary move to…wait for it…KINDERGARTEN. If you’re anything like me, you’re asking yourself, “How did time go by so fast? Is my child going to be up for the challenge? And what about me, how will I deal?!”
Olive and Griffin, ready for Kindergarten?
To help parents become more comfortable with this big change, each year SSDS holds the Kindergarten Readiness Panel. The event is part of the Silver Spring Day School Training Institute, which was established in 2011. As Ms. Emily explains “The staff at SSDS realized that there was a need for high quality, Maryland state approved Core of Knowledge training workshops offered in our area at a reasonable price. Originally, our goal was simply to train our own staff . . . In the past few years, though, we’ve expanded to be a trusted provider of training for preschool teachers, day care providers and parents from not only Maryland, but D.C. and Virginia as well.”
Lauren Robinson, elementary school counselor and SSDS alumni mom tells parents, “The transition into kindergarten is epic–for kids and parents. But if you continue to provide support and listen to the needs of your children, things will likely level out within a few months.”
Parents are invited to attend the workshops. This years workshop offerings have ranged from topics such as “Including All Children and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)” to “Integrating process drama in the preschool classroom.” In 2015, SSDS provided training for approximately 350 early childhood educators.
The Kindergarten Readiness Panel is a training workshop designed specifically with parents in mind. The panel offered parents a birds eye view into a typical day in kindergarten, curriculum changes, and Montgomery special programs, policies, and services. This year, guest speakers included:
- Erica Edelman, a child psychologist, discussing social and emotional readiness;
- Lauren Robinson, a school counselor at Chevy Chase Elementary School, discussing policies on holding children back or applying for early entrance, and evaluation and services for children with special needs;
- Amy Goldberg, a kindergarten teacher at Flora Singer Elementary School, discussing a typical day, curriculum changes, and parental involvement;
- Sandra Castellon, a language immersion coordinator at Rolling Terrace Elementary School, discussing the admission process and curriculum of the partial immersion program.
The panel gave me more food for thought, and a glimpse into what next year might look like. I learned about the importance of social and emotional readiness for kindergarten such as the ability to listen to direction and make friends. It also gave me a chance to ask the speakers some of the hard questions that I’m still grappling with. Is the average five-year-old able to keep up with the quick pace and advanced curriculum? How are teachers managing classrooms in which some children are still working on their social skills? And to those questions, I got some honest, thoughtful answers. Some encouraging, some a little scary, and all great insight into the journey of kindergarten.
Amy Goldberg, a kindergarten teacher at Flora Singer Elementary School, discussing a typical day, curriculum changes, and parental involvement in Kindergarten.
The underlining message I heard from the panel is that kindergarten readiness largely relies on social and emotional development, and that for each parent and child the adjustment to kindergarten is a process. In the wise words of Lauren Robinson, elementary school counselor and SSDS mom alumni, “The transition into kindergarten is epic—for kids and parents. But if you continue to provide support and listen to the needs of your children, things will likely level out within a few months.”
She explained that many children will be tired, moody, and might even regress in areas such as potty training. She suggested giving them a little leeway until they fully adjust. In that moment, I could take a breath, comforted by the fact that the transition is normal, and I felt hopeful that our kids would be OK, largely because of their time learning and growing socially at SSDS.
Kate Waterfall, mom of John in Ms. Kim’s class, also felt a sense of relief hearing from Amy Goldberg that the transition to kindergarten is real, and that the teachers are ready for it. “She said many kids are still developing socially and emotionally, and then outlined the day to day techniques they use to help kids along.” Also appreciating hearing about what a day looks like in kindergarten, Courtney Pollack, mom of Sam in Ms. Kim’s class, feels “there’s always a bit of nervousness about a new situation for us as parents and for Sam. But I’m feeling confident that it’ll all go well in the end.”
And so, it’s onto life’s next adventure—kindergarten. Feeling a bit more at ease knowing that even if our children have a bumpy start, overall they are ready for kindergarten because of their beloved teachers at SSDS who have supported their social and emotional growth. And also feeling hopeful that we too as parents, will survive.
—Nicole Barber-Vincent, mom to Olive and Griffin in Ms. Kelley’s pre-K, and Dylan, 8 ½ months