Kindergarten fears

Kids nervous about the first day of kindergarten? Parents wondering what’s expected of them? Here’s a happy way out for everyone -hold a kindergarten cookout

The first day of formal schooling can be a trying time for five-year-olds, their parents and the school. Fear, apprehension, anxiety, concern, tension. Not everyone feels these emotions on the first day of kindergarten, of course, but a great many kids and adults do, and that’s where the Kindergarten Cookout comes in.

The cookout, as you’ve probably guessed, is an informal meeting that gives prospective kindergartners and their parents a chance to tour the school, meet the teachers and other staff members and get an idea of what goes on in school every day.

The Kindergarten Cookout was introduced about seven years ago and has become an annual event at our school. It may not provide instant and lasting relief for everyone, but it can go along way toward easing those first-day jitters.

The cookout is something your school can do, too. It takes just a little preparation. Here’s how our school goes about it. Bridge-building. Good communication is the first step in building a bridge between home and school.’We start our bridge-building early – long before summer vacation rolls around.

In April, we inform parents during Kindergarten Roundup that a cookout will be held. The community newspaper follows up this announcement by printing reminders in July. Then a note is sent home early in August to remind parents once again of this important event. The Kindergarten Cookout itself is held a few weeks before school begins.

Get organized. Kindergarten Cookouts need not be expensive. In our community, local businesses donate a great many items, ranging from hot dogs to paper cups. You’ll probably fmd that businesses in your community will be just as supportive; however, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

We start early in the summer to procure the necessary supplies and we make sure that we work closely with the cafeteria manager every step of the way

If you’re planning to organize your own Kindergarten Cookout, give some serious thought as to who’s going to do the cooking and how many cooks you’ll need. It’s defnitely not a one-person job. I live in Texas and I quickly sound out the hard way that slaving over a grill in 100ilus degree weather is no fun.

Teachers need to prepare their classrooms for the children and their parents prior to the cookout. Since this means extra work for the teachers, it may involve some creative planning by the administrator. I try to give the teachers compensatory time during the school year to thank them for their efforts.

The agenda. Remember – attention spans are short. Keep the meeting moving forward. A clear, short agenda noting the time set aside for each activity, like the one shown below, is an absolute must.

Points to remember:

1. Plan early.

2. Use the local media for publicity.

3. Local businesses are willing to help. Ask them. Remember to thank these businesses during your cookout.

4. Involve the staff in preparing the program and agenda.

5. Make sure the cafeteria manager is aware mat ms or her job contributes to the success of the cookout.

6. Have a quick-moving agenda and stick to it.

7. Provide time to meet individually with parents.

8. Invite the PTO/PTA to solicit memberships during the meeting.

9. Have the Transportation Director, or whoever is in charge of transportation, available to answer questions about buses.

Positive outcomes:

1. Anxiety is lessened on the first day of school.

2. Children begin to show ownership of the school. They think of it as “My School.”

3. Children and parents become more familiar with the building and staff members.

4. Teachers are given an opportunity to show off their rooms.

First impressions are not only important but last a long time. A Kindergarten Cookout presents an ideal opportunity for you to show off your school and its staff even before school begins. Make the most of it and, above all, have fun – it’s contagious!

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