Brenda O’Donnell, coordinator for The Early Childhood Education Commission, and Bonnie Maki, parent relations facilitator for Suffolk Public Schools, discussed education options with parents during St. Andrew Preschool’s sixth annual Kindergarten Fair on Tuesday.
Brenda O’Donnell, coordinator for The Early Childhood Education Commission, and Bonnie Maki, parent relations facilitator for Suffolk Public Schools, discussed education options with parents during St. Andrew Preschool’s sixth annual Kindergarten Fair on Tuesday.

Preparing for big school

Published 1:21pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Parents armed themselves with information on local options for kindergarten education during an annual event Tuesday at St. Andrew Preschool.

“The reason we do this is because parents are interested in where their kids go next, whether public or private,” said Rhonda Endrusick, director of the Bridge Road preschool, which educates as many as 66 children from 30 months to age 5, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“Instead of having them go to each one of those schools, we bring them all here. It’s kind of like one-stop shopping.”

Schools and other groups set up information booths in the preschool atrium. Participants included Isle of Wight Academy, Stonebridge School, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, The Learning Council, Christopher Academy, Suffolk Public Schools, Trinity Lutheran School and The Early Childhood Education Commission.

The commission was brought in, because it “connects to lots of resources — not just kindergarten, but other ages,” Endrusick said.

Brenda O’Donnell, coordinator for the commission, said parents seemed eager to learn about the options available to them.

“Some of the questions are about how they can prepare their child for kindergarten,” she said, adding books on behavioral issues by so-called positive discipline advocate Jane Nelsen had attracted interest.

“Babies don’t have discipline issues, but once you get into toddler (stage), you will,” O’Donnell added.

Bonnie Maki, parent relations facilitator for Suffolk Public Schools, said parents were inquiring about the registration day for enrolling pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners.

“They also want to know about zoning,” she said. “They ask how many children are in the classroom.”

Entering school is a life-changing event for families, Maki said, adding each district elementary school offers a kindergarten transition program: “Each one does something special for parents coming in, during spring or over the summer. Some of them do kindergarten kick-off, for instance.”

The Kindergarten Fair, which is open to the general community, contributes to St Andrew’s three-star rating from the Virginia Star Quality Initiative, Endrusick said.

“They love it,” she said of the response from parents. “Some of them are just starting to look, and it can be a bit daunting.

“To be able to come here and get a good cross-section of the schools in the area is very helpful. We are not endorsing any one particular school. There’s a lot of different options they can look at, all at once.”

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