Kindergarten forum provides schooling options. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on October 11th, 2017.
As pint-sized pupils progress through their final year of preschool, Mom and Dad may be starting to stress about the next educational step.
The chaotic cloud of choices swirling around includes private versus public, Spanish immersion or a more traditional curriculum. Then there’s the whole question of staying true to the neighborhood school.
In order to help parents wrap their minds around the school conundrum, the Coastside Mothers’ Club, in collaboration with the Half Moon Bay Library, will soon present the Kindergarten Forum.
“Our goal in putting on this event is to give as many parents as we can the knowledge they need to make thoughtful decisions for their children,” said Andrea Rosenthal, Coastside Mothers’ Club education co-chair, in an emailed statement. “It’s an opportunity to come together as a community with the common goal of doing what’s best for our young Coastsiders.”
After grabbing a cup of coffee and a doughnut, perspective kindergarten parents will first hear from an independent and charter school panel featuring Alma Heights, Good Shepherd School, Ocean Grove Charter School, Sea Crest School and the Wilkinson School.
Cabrillo Unified School District Superintendent Jane Yuster will then take to the podium followed by the Cabrillo Education Foundation and the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joy Dardenelle.
Around midmorning a panel of public elementary schools, including Kings Mountain, Farallone View, Hatch and El Granada, will have their say.
“We have so many great schools on the coast, so it’s a very difficult decision when choosing a kindergarten or transitional kindergarten,” said Coastside Mothers’ Club board member Anne Green. “Putting faces with names and having time to really talk with the principals and directors of each school can help ease one’s anxiety about finding the right fit for their child.”
“The Kindergarten Forum is also a great opportunity to sit with the parents of my children’s future classmates and have all of our questions answered,” added Emily Barbour, who is a Coastside Mothers’ Club board member and mother of four.
Deciding on the right kindergarten fit for the family is only one of the hurdles. Transitioning a child from the relaxed preschool atmosphere to a more structured kindergarten class can be a challenge.
“At all schools, the kids have such a wide range of experiences prior to kindergarten,” said Heidi Gilman Bennett, creator of the Parent Ed Series at Sea Crest School. “Some have been at a full-day child care or preschool setting, some have attended a few hours, so the day is really long, and some have never been. They’ve been cared for at home and so for them this is their first experience with a big group.”
The wide range of perspectives can be challenging for young minds and bodies. The information overload of simple school may cause kids who were smiling seconds before climbing into the car to burst into tears before the parents pull away from the curb.
In response to parenting challenges such as this, Bennett has created an education series for new Sea Crest parents specifically geared toward the topic of a healthy transition to kindergarten.
Keely Sikes Rollings, a licensed clinical psychologist working with families in the Bay Area, will facilitate a session detailing how to navigate mornings, evenings and everything in between.
“It can just be little things, like I’m having a hard time getting my child out the door because they don’t want to get dressed,” said series coordinator Paulette Phlipot. “Dr. Rollings might have some neat tips, like OK try this, do this little routine. She just presents it in tactile, practical ways to help parents and families in the progression.
“She’ll also cover the topic of the playground, how to find someone to play with,” she continued. “It’s just kind of a way to get the conversation going regardless if you’re experiencing the issue or not. It brings it to the forefront and puts it in people’s minds.”
The free Kindergarten Forum starts at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 at the El Granada Elementary School multipurpose room, 400 Santiago Ave. in El Granada. For more information on the Parent Ed Series on Healthy Transitioning to Kindergarten, email Michael Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.