Archive for Thursday, April 14, 2005

Roundup eases early transition

April 14, 2005

A key step in paving the way for next year's newest students and their parents, kindergarten roundups are approaching at De Soto elementary schools.

Kindergarten roundups serve a multi-fold purpose. Parents and children meet their future school staff and catch a glimpse of what their first year will be like; teachers and administrators start building relationships with students; and the school district starts counting.

Mize Elementary School's kindergarten roundup will be April 21, and Starside Elementary School's roundup will be the following week, April 28.

Annual roundups also provide a way for school districts, especially growing ones like De Soto, to gauge enrollment against projections.

If children are going to come out of the woodwork, they'll usually show up by kindergarten roundups.

"Kindergarten roundup is our first real clue of what we're going to see come next fall," said De Soto USD 232 operations director Jack Deyoe. "We are such a young district that a lot of our students that hit kindergarten are the oldest child in the family."

Deyoe said it was easy to plan for future students who had older siblings already in De Soto schools.

But new families are trickier to track down. Without taking a door-to-door poll, kindergarten roundup is often one of the first times those students-to-be show up on school radar.

Mize Elementary School principal Pam Hargrove said roundups were helpful and comforting for parents sending any children to school for the first time, whether they were born first, last or in between.

"Start-ing school is such a rite of passage," the principal said. "I think one of the exciting things is having the opportunity to introduce a whole new group of kids to structured learning. For the families, it's an exciting time because it's such a benchmark milestone for their kids."

Hargrove said kindergarten roundups helped parents, children and staff start the year in step. Building relationships should start early, she said.

Roundups provide parents with a paperwork checklist -- birth certificates, proof of residency and immunization records must be turned in before the first day of school -- but also a look at what kindergarten is all about, she said.

Parents can meet teachers, see the school, ask questions, meet other parents and find out about involvement opportunities.

All of those things help them feel more comfortable about sending their small children to school, Hargrove said.

Some schools have parent-only roundups, and others have events for parents and children -- each school chooses its best fit.

This year, Mize's roundup will be geared toward parents and children. There will be fun activities for youngsters while parents take care of business, Hargrove said.

Starside has scheduled a parents-only pre-enrollment night. Kindergartners attending that school will have a chance to see their classrooms and meet their teachers at a later date.

To enroll in kindergarten, a child must be turning 5 by Sept. 1.

Two years ago, De Soto USD 232 saw its first 400-student kindergarten class. This year, Deyoe is predicting a class of anywhere between 400 and 430 students.

"If it hit 430 it'd be the largest kindergarten class we've had," Deyoe said. "If it comes in at 450 I'll get a little nervous."

Finding somewhere to put a bigger-than-expected bunch of kindergartners could be tricky, Deyoe said, but definitely doable.

"We've only got so many buildings, and we've only got so many classrooms," he said. "You figure out a way."

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