kindergartner boarding a school bus
By Ron Benningfield
Starting with the 2017-18 school year, children entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 1. The cutoff has been Oct. 1, but the 2012 Kentucky General Assembly moved back the cutoff date based on the premise that younger students might not be ready for school.
“That two-month window can sometimes make a big difference for kids,” noted Eric Hughes, Hodgenville Elementary School’s principal. “It will be important that students who do not meet the date requirements are receiving appropriate learning opportunities at home, preschools, or through other school/community programs.”
Brigance K Screen III (Kentucky’s common kindergarten screener) results showed that over the past four years, the percent of HES kindergarten students ready to start school has ranged from a high of 53 percent in 2013 to a low of 45 percent in 2016.
Information from Karen Downs, principal at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, indicated the highest percent ready there was 50 in 2014. The lowest was 26 percent in 2016.
State averages showed a low of 49 percent in 2013 while 50 percent of students tested ready for kindergarten in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Downs said the cutoff date change could result in a smaller kindergarten class for the 2017-18 school year. During the 2016-17 school year, ALES had seven students who have birthdates after Aug. 1.
Hughes said there are many basic parent/child interactions that can help promote kindergarten readiness. One of these interactions is Kindergarten Here I Come, a program offered in the summertime to entering kindergarten students with the greatest needs.
“There is also a weekly KHIC program that meets from 10:30-11:15 a.m. each Wednesday,” Hughes added. “It alternates between HES and ALES and is for any child who will be entering kindergarten the next year.”
Another readiness program offered from 9-10:30 a.m. on alternating Wednesdays at the two schools is WEE Time. It is for children from age 2 until they enter school. KHIC kids can also attend WEE Time. There is no cost for those attending either program, but parents must stay with their children.
For more information on these programs, contact Melissa Pearman, HES family resource center coordinator (270-358-3506), or ALES FRC Coordinator Machelle Durham(270-358-4112).
“Even 15-20 minutes of intentional play and learning from parents can help with social, language, cognitive and physical development,” Hughes continued.
He added that skills learned at KHIC will help prepare children for kindergarten and familiarize them with the buildings. Some items he mentioned they will work on include counting 1-20; number words 1-10; a,b,c recognition; taking turns and following directions; sight words from Family Resource Center (parents can pick them up); physical skills(using scissors, holding pencils and writing names, tying shoes, manipulating small items); identifying and matching patterns and shapes; telling time; reading books and retelling the story.
“Programs at the public library will provide great benefit for children as well,” noted Hughes. “Many students will qualify and benefit from preschool and head start programs.”
Downs mentioned other helpful hints such as having students in activities that involve sitting quietly for a short period of time and interacting with other children their age.
“It is very helpful, too, that the child knows their whole name,” she added.
Learn more about kindergarten readiness here.
Tentative registration March 23
Tentative kindergarten registration at both schools is March 23, 3-6 p.m. at HES and 3:30-5:30 p.m. at ALES.
Registration procedures require that guardians possess proof of residence, a copy of the child’s birth certificate, social security card, and up-to-date immunization record. Kindergarten students will also need physical, eye, and dental exams.