HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (April 16, 2021) – Part of being kindergarten ready is learning to adapt to a new environment. That’s exactly what Henderson County Public Schools and local early education partners are doing this year to give incoming kindergartners tools they can use at home to prepare for their first year of school!
Thanks to community partners and sponsors, 1,100 “READY! Kits” full of kindergarten readiness activities were assembled today by volunteers for each incoming HCPS kindergartener. The kits include items like books, crayons, clay, safety scissors, Unifix cubes and activity sheets for using the materials, and will be distributed by each elementary school by the end of this school year.
HCPS also developed a 3-part series of “Kindergarteners Can!” videos to provide a fun introduction to what school will look like – in the morning, midday, and afternoon – and the activities a kindergartener can expect during the school day. “Premiering” the videos to families who’ve just registered a child for kindergarten, the district emailed the videos directly to new kinder families on March 29, April 5, and April 12.
“Kindergarten readiness” is an important annual initiative that HCPS, Smart Start Partnership for Children, and other community partners collaborate on each spring to help children and their families prepare for their very first year of school. Traditionally, this is in the form of a festival-style Readiness Rally, which was canceled in Spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This spring, limited visitor access in schools have impacted opportunities for children to check out elementary campuses, and a large-scale Rally with fun learning activities led by HCPS kindergarten teachers still isn’t feasible due to capacity restrictions. So the “Kindergarteners Can!” videos are designed to help familiarize children to an elementary setting, and early education partners are taking readiness activities directly to new kindergarten families through the READY! Kits.
Just like the activities children would see at a traditional Readiness Rally, the READY! Kit activities incorporate practicing fine motor skills like using safety scissors to cut paper, stringing items, and connecting cubes; logical thinking; color recognition; counting and pre-math; alphabet recognition and introduction to Letterland characters used in the district-wide phonics program; and more.
“Since we can’t show people how to do some of the activities, we also prepared some guidance materials in English and Spanish so parents and guardians know how to use each element of the READY! Kit to support their child for the classroom,” said Dr. Shannon Marlowe, HCPS Director of Elementary Education & Title I.
And reviewing the “Kindergarteners Can!” videos with children can help prepare them for activities that aren’t just academic, but are also very important to starting school.
“Saying ‘goodbye’ to a parent in the mornings, visiting the restroom and washing hands, putting away personal belongings in cubbies, and knowing how to throw away trash are examples of daily actions a new kindergartener can expect to do,” said Marlowe. “Reviewing these videos with your child, and practicing some of the tasks, will also help their transition to the brand new school setting in August.”
Materials for the READY! Kits were purchased or sponsored by HCPS, Smart Start, Western Carolina Community Action, Children & Family Resource Center, Henderson County Public Library, Historic Johnson Farm, True Ridge, United Way of Henderson County, AdventHealth, Hendersonville Fire Department, Bryan Byrd Realtor, Mail Box & Pack, and Lakeview Putt and Play. Volunteers from Hendersonville Women’s Club, Publix at South Market Village, the Henderson County Health Department’s Innovative Approaches Focus Group, Mail Box & Pack, and Bryan Byrd assembled the 1,100 kits on Friday.
Elementary schools are organizing individual pick-up events for the READY! Kits, in addition to school-specific in-person or virtual orientation events. Elementary schools will communicate the details of these events to the kindergarten families who have registered for the 2021-2022 school year.
Kindergarten registration is still open online at KReg.HCPSNC.org! If families have questions or prefer in-person assistance with the online registration process, they may call the school in their home district for guidance. To determine one’s home school district, call the HCPS Transportation Department at 828-697-4739.