Kindergarten Round Up

June 25, 2020


Early Childhood Education

Across the city, hundreds of wide-eyed four- and five-year-olds watch siblings, friends, and neighbors head off with bright backpacks and climb aboard big yellow busses to school, anxiously awaiting their turn. At last, their turn has arrived, as any student who is age five by September 1 is eligible to attend kindergarten. Hooray!

Normally at this time of year, schools are flush with kindergarten round up events, so parents and students can visit classrooms, sit in the chairs, and even sample the graham crackers! Unfortunately, Covid-19 changed all of those plans, forcing schools and parents to find alternative ways to begin the kindergarten journey. Some parents are considering not sending their child to kindergarten at all, since it is not required by the State of Michigan. Before taking that drastic step, it’s important to consider all of the benefits of kindergarten and how you can access information about the kindergarten programs in your area. Start with the search tool on the Detroit Schools Guide so that you can learn about the programs available to you in both DPSCD and Charter Schools.

Several schools are hosting virtual kindergarten round up events now and through the summer, allowing parents and students to ‘visit’ classrooms through their computer. While it is not the same as actually seeing the school in person, it does allow parents and students to observe the classroom setting, ask questions, meet teachers and staff, see other prospective students, and prepare to send their child off to kindergarten. As you explore the schools that you’re interested in, check the school’s website or call the school to find out more about these events.

Despite the uncertainty of the next school year, it is certain that kindergarten classrooms will be full of vibrant learners, excitedly discovering new information and working with their peers. Kindergarten is an essential step in a child’s transition to school and helps the child become accustomed to the place where they will spend the next several years. They get to know not just their teachers, but the principal, school secretaries, lunch servers, bus drivers, and all of the people who will be a part of their educational experience.

Kindergarten is also a stage in which students rapidly develop social skills, like cooperation and working together with students of their own age. Many will be arriving from homes or daycares in which they may have been a part of multi-aged groups, which requires a different set of social skills. In kindergarten, everyone is about the same age and the same developmental benchmarks are expected from each student, creating a different type of dynamic. Academically, students are presented with structured content in accordance with state standards, which allows teachers to observe and collect data that helps to tailor each student’s learning plan. As they learn, some students may show greater strength in some areas as compared to their peers, allowing for advancement and more challenge. Other students may demonstrate the need for additional support, which is possible to obtain in any of Detroit’s schools.  Being in a school with special educational resources and experienced, trained teachers can help identify students with special needs much sooner and allow them to begin receiving services earlier in their educational process. There is also a special sensitivity given to kindergarten students as they transition from homes or daycares to a more formalized educational experience and much of the curriculum is designed to help them learn how to successfully shift. Expectations in first grade are high, and students benefit from a year of transition to formalized school to better succeed in first grade.

As you consider your child’s options, don’t discount the value of the kindergarten experience and make sure to explore all options available to you. Enroll as soon as possible so that your school and teacher can plan for your child in terms of academics, materials, PPE, and other necessary items. If you do decide to wait a year, it is essential that you find ways to help your child develop academic and social skills so that they are not placed into a first grade classroom unprepared.

Written by The Community Education Commission