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It’s one of the first milestones a parent experiences in the school career of a child: that moment when they get on that big yellow bus and go off to school for the first time.
It can be a pretty scary experience for both parent and child, but the Los Alamos Public School District appears to have things covered.
Though kindergarten doesn’t start until September, LAPS is conducting its annual “Kindergarten Roundup” sessions in March and April.
According to Assistant Superintendent Paula Dean, the event is designed to prepare everyone involved, including teachers, for how many kindergartners are coming to each school each year and how that figure is going to impact resources. Those eligible for the roundup include children who will turn five by Sept. 1.
The event also aims to help parents prepare for the transition as well.
“The purpose is the same everywhere, and that is to ‘round up’ the kids and their families, and to give the parents and children an idea of what to expect for kindergarten,” Dean said.
Students will get to meet key players in their first experience with the educational system, including their teacher, the principal and the school nurse, as well as to get a feel for what school is like. While the parents get to ask the staff questions, the soon-to-be-students will be led to another area where they will get to interact and play, as well as learn more about their new surroundings.
“Usually, the kids will be sent to one of the kindergarten rooms to get a sense of what a kindergarten room is. They see and handle the learning materials, the toys, the books and all of that,” Dean said.
The parents typically stay in a separate area where they learn about immunizations, special education services if their students qualify and what they can do at home to help their children prepare for kindergarten.
According to one parent, Edie Ramsdell, Kinder Roundup “is a wonderful way to introduce the kids to the resources the schools have to offer.” Ramsdell has two children, ages four and six.
Dean said there’s a good reason for having an event like Kindergarten Roundup rather than letting the chips fall where they may.
“Not only are the kids scared, but the parents are scared,” Dean said. “Parents are generally more apprehensive about kindergarten than the kids are, especially parents of kids who haven’t attended preschool. This is the first time they’re leaving their mom all day and it’s very frightening. So what we’re trying to do is let everybody know it’s not scary, but really rather fun.”
Barranca Elementary will be one of the first schools to have a roundup this year, according to school secretary Susan Fellows. Speakers will include speech language pathologist Emily Romero, as well as representatives of English Language Learners and the school nurse to talk about immunizations.
Here is this year’s schedule
for Kindergarten Roundup:
• Aspen, April 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m., 663-2230
• Barranca, March 27, 12:30 p.m., 663-2730
• Chamisa, April 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m., 663-2470
• Mountain, March 27, 1-4 p.m., 663-2325
• Piñon, April 3, 1-2 p.m., 663-2230