EATON — This fall, Hollingsworth-East Elementary’s kindergarten classes will have a slightly different start.
In order to slowly adjust the new students to school life, the kindergarten staff has decided to implement a “staggered start” process which will call for half of the students to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 16, and the other half on Thursday, Aug. 17.
On Friday, Aug. 18, the entire class will be in school together.
Principal Pam Friesel and her kindergarten staff suggested the change in front of Eaton’s Board of Education during the board’s May meeting, and received the full support of the board. The suggestion stemmed from the kindergarten team, who saw that this plan would help their students succeed in school.
“It lessens the amount of anxiety on the kids. Many of the kids did not go to preschool and the idea of leaving mom to go to school is overwhelming as it is. When they are with less kids, it is not as overwhelming. A lot of them are emotional, this way we can get to them more. Instead of having 20 kids crying, maybe we can have half of them crying at once,” kindergarten teacher Amy Arend explained.
Kindergarten teacher Kayla Klapper added, “It also allows us to go more in depth with our routines and procedures for the first few days. We spend the majority of the first week just teaching them how to be at school, which is walking in a line, going to a public restroom, so if we have half of our class, we’re able to do that much more efficiently.”
Friesel pointed out, the kids have to learn how school works — how to go to different classrooms, to lunch, to gym, etc. The first two days are meant to be practice days, to implement the students into the routine so that they know how it is supposed to work on that Friday.
“We help get them ready to get on a bus, potentially for the first time,” Klapper said. “A lot of times parents bring their students the first day of kindergarten, to walk them down to the classroom. So they may have never ridden a bus, and now they’re finding their bus for the first time and they don’t know how to identify a number.”
This is a change in how kindergarten classes have been started over the last several years. Friesel added, in past years they have seen how overwhelmed the kids can get and thought this was a way to alleviate some of that stress. Friesel explained, “Our goal was to make the kids a little more comfortable, with a smaller ratio of students to teachers.”
“I think, overall, it’s not necessarily about getting rid of their fears, as much as easing those fears so that [the kids] are more comfortable coming back,” Arend said. “If they’re overwhelmed, they’re really not going to want to come back.”
Friesel concluded, “To parents, your child will either attend on the Aug. 16 or 17. We will be notifying you of the date that your child will attend. We’re still working on that.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH