East Hartford Kindergarten Parent Orientation session held

By Kathryn Baker - ReminderNews
East Hartford - posted Thu., Apr. 4, 2013
Lisa Beauchamp, the principal of Hockanum Elementary School, explains school transportation and parent involvement in their kindergartener's school. Photos by Kathryn Baker.
Lisa Beauchamp, the principal of Hockanum Elementary School, explains school transportation and parent involvement in their kindergartener's school. Photos by Kathryn Baker.

For the first time, parents of incoming East Hartford kindergarten children were invited to a Kindergarten Orientation Evening on April 3, where they learned what to expect and what is expected of them when school starts this fall. Micki Boccaccio, the district language arts consultant for East Hartford, and Mindy D'Andrea, the East Hartford school readiness administrator, planned the event.

Before the meeting started, parents had the opportunity to gather some of the paperwork and medical forms that will be necessary for registration. While some parents had their future kindergarteners with them for the meeting, they also had the option of allowing their children to play with friends in a nearby room where they were monitored by school staff.

The orientation meeting provided an overview of all basic information that parents would need before sending their child to kindergarten in the fall, whether this was their first child to attend or their last. Deb Yaiser, a school nurse, spoke on behalf of preparing children medically for kindergarten in the fall, including the vaccines they will need to have prior to starting school. "Please call your [medical] provider and see if your child is ready with vaccines," she stressed.

Transportation was an important concern of parents, whether they would be utilizing the school bus system or dropping off and picking up their child. Principal Lisa Beauchamp, of Hockanum Elementary School, urged parents who were transporting their students to "show up early" and "please wait with them" for maximum safety. She also explained how, once at school, a "color coding" system will be used to monitor all kindergarten students who use bus transportation. She explained how the system will help the teachers and other school staff to ensure each child boards the correct bus at the end of each school day.

Beauchamp also explained the importance of parents being involved in their child's school with programs such as the Parent Teacher Organization. "They do better if they see you there, because they know you care about their education," Beauchamp said.

Christine Covel, a kindergarten teacher at Robert J. O'Brien STEM Academy, spoke during the meeting about the curriculum for kindergarten students. This included how much homework to expect and the kinds of things students will be taught. During her time at the podium, Covel discussed the anxiety both children and parents can feel when being separated once they arrive at school.

"They [teachers] may let you in the first few days," Covel said, but she advised that parents should not linger with their child in the classroom when dropping them off at school because it actually makes the separation more difficult.

"I'm happy," said parent Sandra Richards, following the meeting. Richards, whose daughter will be starting school in the fall, said she taught her daughter "how to count and her ABCs" in preparation for the start of kindergarten. These are among the skills parents were encouraged to work on with their children. "I'm going to miss her," Richards said, "but, she'll do well. This is something all parents go through."

"Sometimes parents wait so long [to register their child for kindergarten]," said Boccaccio, adding that she hopes the kindergarten orientation meeting will encourage them to begin the process sooner. "I cannot stress enough," explained Boccaccio, "If you are registration-ready, start the process now."

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