July 17, 2013

Summer Transition students prepped for kindergarten

By Mimi Ensley
Dalton Public Schools

— Summer Transition students prepped for kindergarten

By Mimi Ensley

Dalton Public Schools

A group of pre-kindergarten students officially became kindergartners at Blue Ridge Elementary School last Friday.

The students, taking part in the state Department of Early Care and Learning’s Summer Transition Program for rising kindergartners, attended six weeks of school this summer. They worked each day from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on writing, math, science and reading.

“They’re going to be so ready to go into kindergarten and be confident,” said Jenny Shoemaker, one of two teachers in the program.

The social skills students learn over the summer are key to their future success, Shoemaker said.

“The social part of it is huge,” she said. “They’re not shy anymore. They’ve made friends.”

For the 2013-2014 school year, which began July 1, more than 500 students are enrolled in Dalton Public Schools for kindergarten. Of those students, about one-fifth have not experienced the benefits of a pre-k program. With 32 students in two classes, the Transition Program is one way school officials can better prepare those students for kindergarten.

Maria Khote, city school parent involvement coordinator, identifies the students and families who would most benefit from the program, which provides transportation, breakfast and lunch for each student.

“So many of our children do not have any social or academic experience before they get to kindergarten,” said Caroline Woodason, who works with the pre-k program for the city district. “It can put the whole class behind.”

Family education is also a key component to the program. This year, Khote held 10 classes for parents and families, teaching them how to work with their children and preparing them for what lies ahead.

“So much of our education needs to be with the parents,” Woodason said. “The act of reading, playing and talking to the child ... oral language is such a necessity for learning.”

The students and parents are more prepared for what kindergarten will bring. They know how to write their names, hold scissors, identify letters of alphabet and be a contributing member of a classroom environment.

“It’s been amazing,” Shoemaker said.