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Tots prepared for kindergarten

You might remember being traumatized your first day of school or dragging a wailing child into kindergarten.

That’s the kind of scene instructors are trying to avoid at Hennessy School in Grass Valley with their School Readiness Program.

It starts in April before the school year opens in August with Family Fun Night, an evening for preschoolers and their parents, according to program coordinator Kristen McGrew.



Parents receive a school readiness kit with three books, games and a CD of children’s music to use over the summer before they start school.

“That means the first few weeks (of kindergarten), they are hearing the same music and reading the same books they did at home,” McGrew said. That familiarity gives youngsters a level of comfort right away.




“Those kinds of connections are very important,” McGrew said. “When you read to your child, it’s not just reading and the ABCs, you’re bonding and having that time together. The kits encourage parents to spend that time with their children.

“The importance is supporting our families in helping them prepare their children for school,” McGrew added.

Some students and parents also take advantage of the Step Up to Kindergarten program, a four-week summer school for incoming children in their initial year.

“It’s for those who didn’t have a lot of preschool or socialization,” McGrew said. “If children love school from the day they start, they’ll have success.”

Hennessy kindergarten teacher Cynthia Wiberg is a big believer in the Step Up program and the overall readiness concept.

“The program prepares the whole child and lets them experience kindergarten,” Wiberg said. “The expectations we have for them to sit and be quiet for five minutes is novel to some of them.

“It’s a hugely transitional year and it’s important for their socialization and emotional growth,” Wiberg said. “We give them tools to learn how to cooperate and share, because 5-year-olds can be pretty egocentric.”

Within the program, Wiberg travels to daycare centers and preschools to learn about students and those around them before they come to her kindergarten.

“When the Country Preschool comes to pick up kids in the afternoon, I already know them,” Wiberg said.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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