Each fall, more than 80,000 children start kindergarten in Washington, marking the beginning of their public school journey. On April 28th, Governor Inslee emphasized the importance this event by signing Substitute Senate Bill 5028 into law. This bill declared September to be the Month of the Kindergartner and encourages schools to celebrate kindergartners “as they begin their life in K-12 education”.
Here are some ideas for schools to celebrate their incoming kindergarteners:
- Make signs and banners acknowledging September as the Month of the Kindergartner. Use drawings and quotes from older students with words of welcome and advice.
- Decorate a bulletin board with the kindergarten photos of school staff and a welcoming quote from each.
- “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay K!” Develop a special kindergarten chant or song to sing all year long. Don’t forget the dance moves that go along with it and other frequent opportunities for kids to move their bodies and exude their energy!
- Set up a kindergarten photo booth for teachers and families to use.
- Conduct a materials drive for kindergarten classrooms. Families and others may donate gently used or new items such as blocks, toy cash registers, and dolls, as well as things for creating like paper, yarn, shoe boxes and other materials that often get worn or depleted throughout the year.
- Envision the welcoming first impression of school you want to create for kindergartners and their families. Get all the school staff involved!
- Focus “school-readiness” on the school and not just the child. Kindergarten is a place for children of all skills and abilities.
- Review and refresh classroom environments, schedules and routines. Are they engaging? Are children encouraged to explore and interact?
- Encourage teachers to focus on building positive relationships with their students in the first month of school. Help them integrate WaKIDS assessment in playful, joyful ways — not as pull out skill and drill.
- Recognize kindergarten teachers for the hard work that they put into WaKIDS. Is WaKIDS treated as a big deal like the Smarter Balanced Assessment is?
- Encourage older children to get involved — decorating the kindergarten wing of the school, acting as ambassadors or “buddies” for younger students and sharing their memories of starting school.
How will you celebrate?
For more information, please contact OSPI’s Early Learning office at 360–725–6161.