Enrolling Your Child in School
Sending your child to Kindergarten is overwhelming in and of itself. I wildly underestimated my level and my children’s level of preparedness. On the heels of this, I got an email requesting I write up something regarding “school readiness”. Here goes.
2 YEARS BEFORE YOUR CHILD STARTS SCHOOL
Yes, you read that right. Everything we ever needed to know, we, apparently, needed to learn BEFORE Kindergarten. BEGIN NOW:
- Be sure your child can tie his or her own shoes. Your child will need a pair of closed toe tennis shoes for school. Some schools will allow a shoe change before recess.
- Be sure your child can write his or her own name using the appropriate upper case and lower case letters where applicable.
- Prepare your child to memorize a series of numbers. Some lunchrooms have a code for children to purchase lunch.
- Identify your school’s requirements for sight words and start teaching your child these words as early as possible.
- Make sure your child is able to buckle his or her own seat belt. (This will be critical if you are involved in a car rider line.)
- Make sure your child is able to open all potential lunch containers. Practice at home with juice boxes and pouches, Tupperware containers, squeeze yogurts, and every Kindergartener’s arch nemesis….the applesauce cup (those peel off lids are boogers).
- Read at least 3 books with your child every day.
The items above are skills you should begin working with your child on as early as they are humanly able to do these things. I always did everything for my children. No one told me these things would arise, and, while my kids can knock out sight words, I feel certain they might go without parts of their lunch sometimes because the containers are impossible. This is a mommy failure. Save yourselves.
4-6 MONTHS BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS
As school approaches (think 6 months out) begin watching your system’s website for registration dates and details. Many local systems have registration dates in early spring before the school year begins. Registration is not allowed without all required documentation.
HUNTSVILLE CITY REGISTRATION
For information on registration, click here. The guidelines are rather buried, so I recommend visiting the policy manual above and calling your specific system or school to check for dates and other guidelines. I would call in late Winter as registrations generally begin in early Spring. Specifically, Huntsville City School appears to require up to date immunizations and a social security number and card. Other requirements should be verified with the system at the time of enrollment.
The general contact line for the system is 256.428.6800.
MADISON CITY REGISTRATION*
For information on registration, click here. 2011-2012 guidelines required:
- Parent/Guardian Picture ID
- Alabama Blue Immunization Card . They cannot accept anything other than the Alabama Blue Card (Cards are obtained through your doctor or public health department).
- Copy of Student’s Certified Birth Certificate (not a hospital copy)
- Social Security Card (can be a copy). If a Social Security Card is not available, the following items will be accepted:
- Recent letter from Social Security Office verifying card number
- Military ID
- Current tax return (registering student listed as dependent)
- Medicaid card with Social Security Number
- Custody papers (required if student lives with someone other than both parents listed on birth certificate)
- Student withdrawal form from previous school
- Grade-level Verification
- Middle and high school – transcript (unofficial accepted)
- Elementary – last report card
- Proof of Residency (in parent/guardian’s name)
- Registration Forms for students enrolling for 2012-2013 school year – complete the following forms online, print, and bring with you to registration
*Please note that this information was obtained from the Madison City Schools website and is subject to change without prior notification.
MADISON COUNTY REGISTRATION
For information on registration, click here. Additional information can be requested from: Jennifer Shepard Central Office Receptionist at 256-852-2557 Ext. 1221
ONE MONTH BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS
Brush up on your system’s rules. I strongly recommend making yourself familiar with your system’s policies and guidelines and student codes of conduct. You will most likely be asked to read these in full and to sign off. You will thank me if you have done this ahead of time. Astute parents will want to sign everything and send it back the day after it is requested. Feeling you MUST read a 60 page manual in a night is a drag. Give yourself time to peruse these ahead. Then go back over them. There may be things you do not understand or agree with. These are the rules your kids will live by daily. Pay attention.
Huntsville City Schools policy manual. Their code of conduct appears to be integrated in with the policy manual document.
For Madison City, you will be required to read and sign off on the Code of Conduct as well as the student handbook and policies.
Finally, consider your child’s sleep schedule. This is a great time to start getting to bed early and waking up early if you have been notorious for hanging out in PJs until noon. You will thank me for this later.
PRIOR TO THE START OF SCHOOL, BUT NO SOONER THAN NECESSARY
Utilize your school’s supply list to buy supplies. Do not assume anything. I wasted money on backpacks. Our school requires tote bags (which they provide) for Kindergarteners. I thought I knew what supplies we would need. I was wrong. The list will be specific. This is your first test from the teacher. If you want a gold star, do not deviate from the list.
If you plan to pack lunches, I suggest investing in some nice bentos or lunch systems. Be careful about your lunch box. You want it insulated and large enough for what you plan to pack. There is a conspiracy with the cutesy small things. They do not work. BE SURE YOUR CHILD CAN ZIP AND UNZIP THEIR PACK. Also, there may be a snack requirement in addition to lunch. This often requires items that can be room temp in packing that can be thrown away. Don’t assume. I am suffering all of my assumptions right now.
Other School Items:
- Buy multiple thermoses. Some teachers do not mind your child bringing water to class as well. Check with your teacher.
- You may be required to provide a nap mat. I did not understand. See my Rocket City Mom article “The Nap Mat Conundrum.” Skoolcraft and The Off Campus College Bookstore offer a nice selection of mats. Pay attention to your school requirements.
- Have a small sweater or jacket that your child can carry in their bag.
- Label everything. Label everything. Label everything. Do not send items to school with your child without labeling them.
Be prepared to have LOTS of expenses each week related to school. Have cash on hand at all times (think lunch, book fair, field trips). Some schools offer online lunch pay options. These are nice, just make sure your child can memorize their account number. You will have all kinds of “school start-up costs” like PTA membership, class shirts, fundraisers, and parties (yes, two weeks in and we already have a birthday invitation). This may change, but for 2 children, I think a reasonable monthly school budget is between $100 and $200. I may need to revise that later, but, so far, this is my experience.
THE FIRST FEW WEEKS
Despite my type A OCD affliction, I have stayed away from my children’s teachers. I want them to have their own organic relationship with my children so that they can provide the most appropriate instruction possible. They do not need me influencing their perception of who my children are or are not or what they can or cannot do. I am biased. I am also not a teacher. I say leave the professional work to the professionals.
I have scheduled a conference for later in September. This gives me a chance to see where we are and where we are going and what role the teachers want me to play in that.
Be prepared for homework. Yes. Homework. Every night.
Attend your school’s PTA meetings and curriculum nights (or other parent/teacher events) every possible chance you get. These meetings put you with the parents of the children who attend school with your kids and allow you to be involved in what is going on. If you are not involved, you don’t have a lot of room later to take pride in successes or to complain about failures. YOUR CHILDREN NEED YOU!
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to just be present and available. An involved parent really does provide a sense of security to the student. For those parents who work (me), we sometimes have to say no to a school function or activity, and that is okay. Spend some extra time that night looking through homework or reading together.
I am possibly learning more at this very moment of my life than I ever have before. You will too. When you feel overwhelmed just think about this, you can always pop in for lunch, and maybe it will be Mexican pizza day. Just don’t ask for fries and ranch, because they don’t do that anymore.