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For 74 incoming kindergartners and their parents, the first day of school should be smooth sailing.
They were participants in the new Jump Start to Kindergarten program through Wilson County Schools that aims to take the fear factor out of starting school.
“The idea is to get as many kindergartners into the school before actual school starts so they can learn the routines and be more comfortable coming in the first day,” said Jennifer Lewis, executive director for elementary education with Wilson County Schools. “They can get started a whole lot quicker at the beginning of the year.”
Students and parents can get a clearer picture of just what school is all about.
“It will make it easier for the parents dropping off the kids on day one, and it will make it easier on the children,” Lewis said. “They will know what to expect without the whole entire school here.”
In the free, week-long sessions last week open to all kindergartners at Hearne, Winstead, Vick, Jones and Wells elementary schools, students had an opportunity to go through the cafeteria line without the school entire school there. They also toured the entire school.
“They are more comfortable, so it will make for a easier transition on the first day of school,” Lewis said. “We are hoping to increase it next year. We are very much hoping to build on it and have several more schools involved in it next year and continue our partnership with NEED.”
Nash, Edgecombe Economic Development Inc. funded the program because Head Start children are participating.
The program’s cost was between $7,000 and $8,000. Some 10 teachers from the five schools participated plus an additional teacher to teach a session on Monday to the parents of the students.
“With our 3- and 4-year-old children, we promote school readiness, so for low-income families that are in our three counties, it is important for them to be involved in their children’s education; therefore, they know what to expect to come into kindergarten,” said Ginell Rogers, executive director with NEED Inc.
“A lot of parents don’t have the support that they need in order to get their children prepared for kindergarten.”
The children were in class from 8 a.m. to noon, and parents took their class from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Hearne Elementary School. That gives them the chance to drop off their children and enough time to come to Hearne for the learning session.
“We want our parents to be the first advocates for their children, and I think a program like this is very much needed,” said Rosilyn Kee, who works with NEED’s family development program. “While the children are learning, the parents are learning. While the children are getting resources, the parents are getting resources.”
“With our Community Services Block Grant, which is where this family engagement is coming from, we focus on self-sufficiency for clients and for parents,” Rogers said.
Jessica Vittoria of Wilson said the program was a benefit to her and her daughter, who is a new kindergartner at Wells Elementary this year.
“She is getting socialization for sure. She loves being able to play with kids her own age. She shows me lots of independence, which is good for her, and she is just excited about going to kindergarten. We have been working on stuff at home, like writing her name, working on letter. So going into school has been a good experience for her. She almost doesn’t want to leave she loves it so much,” Vittoria said.
“I have learned a lot of new things like, for example. I did not know about the school supply list, which is something we learned,” Vittoria said. “We were going to go school supply shopping this weekend, and we downloaded our kindergarten supply list from the website, but the teachers told me yesterday that they form their own list based on the curriculum and their lesson plans at school, so we are not school shopping until we get the actual teachers list. We would have wasted money, so it’s actually a very important piece of school information that we learned together.”