Calling all 5-year-olds

Published 10:55 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hundreds of parents of 4- and 5-year-olds will be registering their children today for kindergarten for the 2011-2012 school year.

Registration gives the school system an opportunity to plan for the number of kindergarten students that will be entering Suffolk Public schools.

“The main reason it’s important is it helps us get an idea of how many kindergarten students to expect,” said Bethanne Bradshaw, spokeswoman for Suffolk Public Schools.

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When the school system has the correct numbers and knows how many students will be entering each school, they are able to assign the correct number of kindergarten teachers and deliver the correct number of supplies to each school.

Kindergarten registration is important for parents and students, too. Coming to the school to register helps children and their parents begin to familiarize themselves with the building. Since registration is going on during the regular school day, parents can observe students and teachers in the classroom, ask questions about school policies, registration, teachers and programs available to students.

“The earlier you can answer those, the better,” Bradshaw said.

Registration provides the school with general information about the student, as well as parent contact information.

“We’d like to know who our kids are,” said Pamela Connor, coordinator of elementary instructional services. “The sooner we know them, the more support we can provide to them.”

If your child will be 5 years old or older before Sept. 30, they need to be enrolled in school unless you have notified the school that you will be waiting a year before enrolling your child. Children who will be 6 years old or older by September 30 must be enrolled in school, according to Virginia law.

Children cannot begin school without registering.

“When a child gets on a bus and just comes to school, we have to call their parents to pick them up,” Connor said. “They can’t start school for health reasons. We can’t let them come into our schoolhouse.”

To register your child, bring a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate; an immunization certificate with vaccination dates for Hepatitis B, DPT, polio varicella and MMR; a certificate of physical examination; and documents to prove residency in Suffolk such as a utility bill.

You must also complete a registration form and provide any additional information requested by the principal.

Parents can begin the registration process even if they don’t have all of the paperwork yet, Connor said. They can bring in the paperwork as they get it.

The school system is also offering special programs to assist upcoming kindergarten students and their parents. Suffolk parents can take part in a free Kindergarten Kickoff program that will take place at Kilby Shores Elementary School on April 11 and Northern Shores Elementary School on April 12. The program will provide a self-guided tour of a kindergarten classroom, speakers who will explain to parents what to expect and a dinner. Parents must register prior to April 4 to attend this event.

The school system will be offering a kindergarten preparation program from June 28 to July 28. This summer program will help acclimate children who have never participated in a preschool program to begin to learn the routines and procedures of a typical school day.

Kindergarten registration will take place at all of the elementary schools, with the exception of Driver Elementary, today from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. It will be held again on May 18 during the same times.