Photo by Johnny Jackson
Randy Butler, a kindergarten teacher at New Hope Elementary School, registers the school’s first kindergarten student, Ethan Grizzle, for the upcoming 2012-13 school year.
Entering elementary school for the first time can be an intimidating experience for youngsters, but less so for those who have prepared for the new experience, according to veteran child care provider Carolyn Rentz.
Rentz is the owner of The Wonder Years: Child Care and Learning Center, in Hampton. She and her husband of 52 years, Sam, have owned the facility for 18 years and have helped prepare hundreds of youngsters for kindergarten.
Rentz stressed the benefits of pre-K programs as a tool to prepare tots to be successful once they enter kindergarten. Pre-K programs, she said, help expand social skills and develop literacy skills necessary for students entering in the traditional school environment for the first time.
“The pre-K program that reaches the 4-year-old gives them some of the basics that will prepare them,” said Rentz. “It begins that foundation that they can continue to build on ... for the rest of their school years.”
The registered nurse plans to host a six-week summer transition program for children with little, or no, prior pre-K program experience. Enrollment in the program will be free, and is available to families with limited means.
The program, which lasts from June 4, until July 13, is scheduled at 49 select centers statewide, according to Reg Griffin, on behalf of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). It is federally funded through the Georgia Department of Human Services and targets families who are eligible for Child and Parent Services (CAPS).
Griffin said the resulting summer transition program was created for rising kindergarteners who either did not attend Georgia’s Pre-K, or Head Start, or attended but need additional support to be ready for kindergarten next fall.
“A similar program was offered the past two summers with stimulus funding,” added Griffin. “We would like to offer the program again if the funding is available.”
Griffin said funding for this year’s summer transition program sites is limited, and therefore, is based on the quality of the centers’ applications and the number of children eligible to be served within the program service areas. The funding was targeted for counties based on Georgia’s Pre-K waiting list data, county poverty rate, and third-grade scores on the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
The Wonder Years Child Care and Learning Center serves Clayton County families primarily, but also serves students in Fayette County, Spalding County, and Henry County.
While there are several classes to be offered statewide in the summer transition program in June and July, Rentz said her center has eight seats left available for its 16-pupil class. To learn more about the facility, call (770) 478-0067.
Those wanting to know more about other area facilities offering the federally funded summer transition program may find a list by visiting www.decal.ga.gov.
“These six weeks can potentially make all the difference in the world for these students as they prepare to enter kindergarten this fall,” added Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia DECAL.
Many youngsters already are getting a first glimpse of kindergarten this week, as schools around the Southern Crescent are hosting Kindergarten Round-up/Early Registration opportunities for rising kindergarteners.
Early registration began Monday, and continues through Friday, for both Clayton County Public Schools and Henry County Schools.
Parents must provide a valid proof of identification with a current picture and a state-issued birth certificate, or legal proof of birth, during early registration in Clayton County Public Schools. The parents’ names on the birth certificate must match the parent identification.
The school district requires a current and complete ear, eye, and dental examination on the Georgia Department of Human Resources form (Form 3300) as required by state law.
Additionally, a current and completed department form (Form 3231) is required by state law in showing immunizations for polio, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, three doses of hepatitis B, two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and two doses of varicella (chicken pox).
Likewise, in Henry County Schools, all new entrants must have obtained two doses of the MMR and varicella vaccines.
Henry parents must provide a copy of their child’s birth certificate at the time of enrollment as well as a certificate that their child has completed an eye, ear, and dental examination. They may register their children who are, or will be, 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2012.
The school district plans to use its number of registrants from this week to make planning decisions for the upcoming school year.
Proofs of residency are requirements for both Henry County Schools and Clayton County Public Schools. Examples of the proofs can be found at the respective web sites.
To learn more about Henry County Schools’ kindergarten registration process, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us, or contact the school designated within your attendance zone. Find information on Clayton County Public Schools’ Kindergarten Round-up at www.clayton.k12.ga.us.