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Gearing Up for Kindergarten helps parents prepare kids

Jamestown Public Schools is offering a hands-on learning experience to help families prepare children to enter kindergarten.Parents register children for Gearing Up for Kindergarten at the same time they register to attend kindergarten from Jan. ...

Jamestown Public Schools is offering a hands-on learning experience to help families prepare children to enter kindergarten.
Parents register children for Gearing Up for Kindergarten at the same time they register to attend kindergarten from Jan. 4-22. Gearing Up for Kindergarten is a free, research-based program that was developed at North Dakota State University. The 10 sessions run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays from Jan. 28 through April 7 at Washington Elementary School, 705 4th Ave. NW.
“It’s a positive start and a powerful way to get families invested in a student’s learning,” said Vikki Coombs, principal of Louis L’Amour and Washington Elementary schools.
Coombs, who said she also serves as the principal for Gearing Up for Kindergarten, said the program will help parents decide whether their children are ready for kindergarten or not.
If the children are not ready, it is not a bad thing, she said. It only means they can continue to nurture them for another year and will help them to succeed, she said.
“The reason I support this program is because it includes the parental component,” Coombs said. “The teachers build awareness in parents about what the kids need to know prior to school and how to help children be successful.”
The two kindergarten teachers running Gearing Up for Kindergarten are Peggy Vandal and Valerie Ford. Three paraprofessionals, Sheree Becker, Joyce Hanneman and Penny Gengler, offer support in working with the kids.
Each session includes activities for parents and children to do together and with teachers. Information on guidance, discipline, the importance of sleep, nutrition, safety and nurturing social and emotional development are taught to parents as “the first educators” and key to a child’s success at school, she said.
The kids are assessed while taking part in learning exercises in math, reading and science. The teachers assess cognitive abilities, motor skills, brain development and social skills.
The importance of reading to children and engaging them in conversation is emphasized, Coombs said. Recognizing letters, numbers and sounds and writing their name are also important.
“Five candles don’t always make someone ready for school and this program makes the case that we should not push kids too soon,” she said.
Jamestown Public Schools Superintendent Robert Lech said Gearing up for Kindergarten is an important transitional program for students, but also for parents who able to share in that experience. The program can assess kids at different levels and advise of the expectations and tools to help prepare the child.
“It (kindergarten) is the grade level in which we see the greatest disparities between children,”he said. “The beginning of the year in kindergarten requires lots of time to transition our students into the school environment. Any comfort level that a child has with this process only helps expedite that transition.”
For more information on Gearing Up for Kindergarten, contact Coombs at 251-2102.
tlaventure@jamestownsun.com
(701) 952-8455

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