EDITOR’S NOTE – This is the first in a three-part series on “Learning for Life” about the Canyon School District.
It was the second-century philosopher Epictetus who said, “Not what happens to you, but how you react to it.”
The words of ancient philosophers speak to all segments of the modern population, including the youth of Canyon City.
Children under the age of K who attend kindergarten have been a top priority in the district for many years, as evidenced by the long tradition of kindergarten retraining and Friends Day.
Kindergarten screening is offered to all children under 5 by August of the same year and acts as a full-time program to help prepare for the first school experience. Many children receive full-time care before the start of formal education and before K, but for those who do not, the opportunity to begin the transition from finger painting to learning and writing the alphabet is important.
“Children need this support when moving from one thing to another. I think it’s important not only for their social and emotional development, but also for their safety, ”said Dorothy Day, director of the Children’s Center of the Family Center and ECHO. , how important it is. “
A close partner of the Round-up in Kindergarten is Friends Day, during which preschoolers join a kindergarten for half a day both in the classroom and on the playground.
Pamela Walker, a retired childhood school manager in Canyon, said: “Saying goodbye to your young childhood in that great place is awful and there are things we can do to make the transition.”
However, in February 2020, a grant was received by the state and eight people from the district were selected to attend a special conference aimed at moving children from one class to another. Mainly led by Head Start in Canyon City, dozens of administrators, teachers, principals and many more gathered in March of that year to continue the smooth transition, whether it’s from infant to child, from school to school or from K to kindergarten. .
However, the district has decided to set up a committee in 2021 to focus on preschool and kindergarten children.
“Always, always, the transition comes as the hardest thing – it doesn’t matter where it happens,” Walker said. “It’s very stressful for everyone involved, and of course, if the mother is stressed, the child will definitely be affected by it.”
In response to the work of the Transition Committee over the past year and a half, new steps have been taken to create a comfortable environment for preschool children and their parents for the upcoming changes.
For example, the district now uses forms that serve to educate teachers about new and / or new students. The leaflets ask a variety of questions – some are aimed at young students, such as: “I wish my teacher knew something about me” and others are aimed at parents who can detail personality traits, triggers, allergies, etc. that their child has. to do. have.
“It’s a relationship you can start,” Walker said.
In addition to the forms that help the teacher to get to know the student, even before he or she steps into the classroom, many resources are offered to parents, such as a “10 ways to prepare for kindergarten” or a list. basic skills that children will succeed in starting their official academic journey.
However, shapes and resources are just the tip of the iceberg.
By the end of April, the district hopes to complete what they call Transition Books – comprehensive guidelines for each of the district’s six elementary schools. The books include pictures of the school’s exterior, classroom interior photographs, a photo of the teacher (as well as many others), and accompanying evidence and posters that teach both parents and preschoolers what to expect at this school. .
In modern times, the district also hopes to digitize books for parents who prefer online copies – this will also allow the district to easily update images and facts. But this is the hope of the future.
These new and exciting additions to the space between preschool and kindergarten have not only come in response to the 2020 grant. The district has a long history of focusing on young children and it shows.
“We actually have a long-term joint childhood system, the council itself (ECHO and the Family and Childhood Center) existed about 45 years ago,” Day said. “Other Colorado communities were really looking for us to see how we created a strong and collaborative network.”
But don’t take their word for it.
Dina Johnson was a kindergarten teacher at Harrison K-8 for eight years and saw first-hand the benefits of their Transition and Labor Committee.
“They’re sponge and they’re just ready to listen and learn and you can teach them a lot,” he said.
Johnson has been on the committee himself since March 2021 and has witnessed the benefits of preparing preschoolers to enter a full-time primary school.
Rayon regularly allows kindergarteners to attend small groups (4-5 children) for at least half of the day during the first week. This is done in the hope that the children will not feel the situation again.
Johnson said, “Everything we can do to help them come in at a younger time and see it and help parents feel comfortable, because as much as children are afraid, so are parents … it helps them be prepared to learn, ”Johnson said. .
Elise Strickler, a kindergarten teacher at the Lincoln School of Science and Technology from 2019, also sees the interests of children every day after a successful transition.
“Having the opportunity to demonstrate what to expect in kindergarten can allow students to practice or discuss these skills with their families over the summer, which will allow students to feel more comfortable entering a new school. to do. “
On Buddy Day, as an added benefit to boost parental confidence, they are invited to travel alongside principals to relevant schools so they can ask any questions they may have.
“We want to be there to help parents in every way we can to make this transition as smooth as possible,” Strickler said.
Bethany Caprio, a 6-year-old Korean parent, is grateful for her continued efforts to comfort both children and parents with the change. Although Cora has two older brothers who have struggled with moving to older classes, Bethany had hoped that Cora would have a unique experience.
And she blooms.
“He learned to separate from his mother and father, he understood that we were going to work and he was going to school – that separation was taught there,” Caprio said. “And then the feeling of adults, young children – they feel more independent and feel responsible – that helped.”
The truth is that children will always be children, whether they are from Epictetus or 2022 Canon City, but for the school district, extending a helping hand when transitioning to formal education will probably never be a negative action.
Kindergarten screening will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 26-27, and parents are encouraged to contact the school of their choice to learn the details of this institution.
District Friends Day is scheduled for May 11.