MORGAN COUNTY PRE-K STUDENTS GET READY FOR KINDERGARTEN WITH "MARCH TO THE BIG SCHOOL"
by Tara Derock Mahoney
photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to school they go! Nearly 200 four-year-olds who will be entering Morgan County Primary School as kindergarteners this coming August participated in the first annual “March to the Big School” last week. The kids—and about 100 of their parents—came to the school for part of a day to learn a little bit about the life of a kindergartener.
“This is one in a series of events in a year-long transition plan that all of the local pre-schools put together,” said Dr. Wayne Myers, School Readiness Coordinator for Morgan County schools. “We just want them to come and have a sense of the ‘Big School,’” he said.
Dr. Myers knows from pre-schoolers, having spent 20 years as a beloved principal at Morgan County Primary School before retiring in 2007.
“We want [the kindergarteners] to feel comfortable and welcome,” said Myers. “We want this starting at a new school to be not such a big deal.”
Anecdotal evidence suggest that the county’s school readiness program—which includes a school tour and another day on which a puppet show is put on for the kids—is reaping benefits, even though it is only in its third year.
“We don’t have kids coming in and crying on the first day of school—we don’t see as much of that anymore,” said Myers. “
Myers said that about 80 to 90 percent of the kindergarteners at Morgan County Primary School this year will have participated in some sort of pre-school program. Myers works throughout the year to coordinate programs with local pre-schools—including Kiddy Land and Little Tikes, Cook’s Kiddy Care, the local Head Start, and the First United Methodist and Madison Presbyterian church programs. The county also coordinates with a number of family-based day-care givers.
“I think it helps everybody—kids, parents, and teachers—feel better about transitioning to kindergarten,” said Myers. “I think the kids who come in August feel like they belong at the school.”
The “March to the Big School” included a session with current kindergarteners, who shared what it was like to go to the big school and some information about the rules for kindergarteners.
“I think we’ll have to expand that part of the program next year, give them even more time,” said Myers. “It was really sweet—the kindergarteners were sharing their experiences; they took it very seriously.”
Parents and students get to take home materials from the “March” that help them get ready at home for the big August event—a list of materials needed for kindergarten, as well as a count-down calendar the kids can put up toward the end of the summer with activities and reminders that will help the whole family prepare for the first day of school.
An April event for the pre-schoolers was no accident; this month is the “Month of the Young Child,” and organizers thought it appropriate to add an event to the school readiness program that celebrated the youngest of school-goers.
“We’re celebrating the notion that helping young children helps all of us, in the long run,” said Myers.
Plans are already in the works to make next year’s 2nd Annual “March to the Big School” even better.
“We did not realize we would have so many parents attending,” said Myers. “That was great, but unexpected. Next year, we need to have more activities for them, too.”
PRINTED IN THE APRIL 16, 2009 EDITION