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Kindergarten FAQ

Starting kindergarten is one of life’s milestones, both for children and their parents. Families can support the kindergarten transition by connecting with others, volunteering for the PTA  and attending some of the events. There’s lots of information on the District 65 website, the Thunderbird Times weekly newsletter which you'll receive by email and here in the PTA pages. 

Kindergartener viewing narwhals in a Washington classroom

What's the best thing to wear on the first day?



I meant for my child.

Comfortable play clothes that can get dirty and be worn at art, lunchtime, recess and daily PE. Children are asked to keep a spare outfit in their locker in case of an accident or spill. All clothing should be labeled with your child's name.

What can I expect on the first day of school? Is it a full day?

In many ways, the first day of kindergarten is a typical school day, beginning at 9:05 a.m. and ending at 3:35 p.m. Students participate in circle time, listen to a book, sign up for lunch, eat in the school cafeteria and begin to learn classroom rules and expectations. Becoming familiar with the school day routine is a long process that starts on day one.

Can I send my child on the bus the first day of school?

Yes, but you may want to follow it and meet your child at school. (More for your piece of mind than your child's.) Don't forget the camera!

Can I sit in the classroom on the first day?

No! Blow kisses and wave goodbye from the playground. While this may seem harsh, prolonged goodbyes often make separation more difficult for a child.

What if he/she starts crying or protesting before entering school?

Let the classroom teacher and other school personnel help your child into the building. Showing that you trust these adults will help your child learn to trust them too.

I'm worried about my child's transition to a full day

Many children initially struggle; it's a long day! To help with the transition, Washington kindergartners have a rest and read period built into their daily schedule during the first half of the school year. It's typical for some children to fall asleep on their nap mats during the first several weeks of school. That's a good thing. Parents can also help by setting an earlier bedtime and reducing the number of after school activities and playdates. Your child's cranky, whiney behavior won't last forever and remember, they always save the worst for you!

How can I get involved in my child's classroom?

Wait a bit before volunteering at lunch or recess to let your child adjust. Once the school year is underway, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, from helping students at events and going on class field trips. Several kindergarten family events are scheduled on evenings throughout the year.

What skills should my child have before starting kindergarten?

Children enter kindergarten with a wide range of previous school experience and skills. The most important thing you can do is to work on basic readiness skills such as putting on and taking off jackets and shoes, cleaning up toys and following directions. Reading, writing and math skills are important, but so are the basics.

Do children have homework in kindergarten

Not really, but you do! Read to your child for at least 20 minutes each night. Some teachers also assign a reading journal and/or a worksheet to reinforce letter formation, literacy concepts and basic math skills. If there is "homework" it's typically assigned over the weekend or at the beginning of the week to be completed by Friday. Periodically, you may be asked to help your child complete a more involved assignment, such as the poster for the 100th day of school.

How does lunch and recess work?

Kindergarten students eat together in the cafeteria. They have 20 minutes for lunch, followed by 20 minutes of recess on the kindergarten playground. The kids are supervised by part-time employees hired by Principal Kate Ellison.

Do the children go outside for recess in cold weather?

Yes, they head outside whenever possible. It's an important time for developing gross motor skills and learning how to play and negotiate.

What sort of shoes does my child need?

Sneakers or gym shoes for gym class. Some kindergarten teachers may require sneakers as daily footwear; flip-flops and Croc-type shoes aren't allowed due to safety concerns. (They also walk funny in these shoes.) Work with your child on taking them on and off and tying them independently.

Is there a lost and found?

Yes and you should see how much stuff ends up here. It's located in the small hallway in the entryway directly opposite the Health Clerk's office.

Can kindergartners participate in clubs?

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Yes, but it's best to wait until January to sign them up for before or after school programs, to give them a chance to adjust to the 6.5 hour school day. For more information about clubs or if you want to participate immediately, please visit the Clubs & Activities webpages.

How to survive the first day of in-person kindergarten

"Mainly try to hold (your own) tears in and understand that it is scary/exciting. I still remember my first day -- 50 years ago. When I came home my mother gave me a special lunch served on a tray. I felt very grown up."  — Advice columnist Amy Dickinson

A hug, a big smile and do not let them see you cry! If you are sad or anxious they will be too. Keep it positive and cry at home."  — Michelle Trepanier

"Wear sunglasses." — Cherry Preschool teacher Kim Newman

"Read them The Kissing Hand and place a kiss in their hand so they put it on their cheek and say, I'm always with you. It's a great book." — Corin Tablis

"I didn't say 'goodbye', but more of a 'have a great day, be a good listener, be a kind friend, and I can't wait to hear about your day later'....letting your child know you will see them later makes the 'long' day away have a tangible timeline. I will still say something along those lines as she will start a new school as a third grader. I think she will be more nervous now than in kindergarten." — Marci Rubin

"Before you go, talk to them about how the day will go, visit the room with them and then 'have a good day' and 'I'll see you later.' Also, Day 1 May be the hardest on you, but kids can take weeks to get into the routine." — Jason Morris

"For our kids at Pope John XXIII School, the parents came into the kindergarten classroom with our children. After about 20 minutes of welcome and explanation of how the classroom and day would go, all the kids were gathered onto the story time carpet, Miss Rack started reading an exciting book and then told all us parents we could go now. I think we all exchanged Hershey kisses too in case we missed each other later. Very few tears!" — Linda O’Dwyer

"Show them where the bathroom is, tell them you love and are proud of them. Tell them they get to pick dinner even if it is MCD. Let them know they will have to be able to name at least one kid in their class who they think will be a friend. Giving them tasks, takes the pressure off of first day." — Merribeth Rhoads

"I was told to say " I'll be thinking about you " with a cheerful tone instead of goodbye or I'll miss you." — Mary Ann Schultz

"Give them something to put in their pocket. Then every time they touch it they know that you're thinking of each other." — LuEllen Joy Miller-Giera

"Given 'em a hug, say goodbye, have fun, and I'll see you after school. Don't make a big deal about it."  — Mindy Wallis 

"Put a little drawing of the family or a heart in his or her pocket that she or he the can look out or just touch as a reminder if the peeps who love and miss him or her."  — Wendy Leopold

"Don't say goodbye ... that signals abandonment. Make it an adventure ... and say you're super excited about them telling you all about it." — Ryan Garton

"It's tough but what they feel from you is what they will reflect in their behavior and feelings. Depart in a relaxed way, letting them know you will be back soon, so they feel your confidence in them that they are OK. My two cents." — Lisa Menniger

"What Lisa said! And what Ryan said! And what Mindy said! But take your lead from that amazing kindergartener. Give em what they need - a push, an extra hug, or even a little extra time if it's called for. You have this!" — Susy Schultz

"I think the transition was better than I expected, because by remaining outside, my kindergartener walked away from me. I wasn't leaving him inside the classroom. He was empowered to walk on away from me, to start his new school adventure.
But also developing a routine pattern, we did hug-kiss-BIGhug-go! — Suzanne Daley

"The teacher meeting before school was key. My daughter knew who she would be seeing, which locker was hers (and how to open it!), where the lineup would be. Mrs. Pais also had the kids bring in a family photo that was displayed in the classroom. — Mara Jauntirans 

"Goodbye if you are there having taken them to school, or goodbye in the morning before you go to work? I was able to do the former for both of mine at Washington, and it was intense. I still remember both days very clearly. I thought the key was to be as encouraging and positive as possible about what they were embarking on--and that meant in the week or two leading up, too. I thought it was important for them not to see any sadness/mixed emotions from me or my wife, especially the day of, but rather to get the most consistent, positive demeanor we could present. And I thought it was important to acknowledge sympathetically (if/when they expressed concern) what a big step this was, and how, sure, it was totally OK and understandable to be nervous, but to stress, gently, how ready they were for this next step in their lives--to treat it as the exciting new adventure it is, basically. All of this is easier to communicate in the morning after breakfast if you're not there in the school yard watching them line up to walk into the building, of course. But I think it's really hard for kids to see a parent stress out in that starting-kindergarten moment. They need to see us be supportive but positive and encouraging, I think." — Doug Seibold

Ways to get connected

Incoming Kindergarten Playdates are virtual this year!

Check out the Washington calendar for details!

Come and meet other incoming kindergartners and their families in advance of the new school year! Join us for one or more of the following summer play dates being held on the Washington kindergarten playground (located on the south, or Main Street, side of the school). Parents, caregivers and siblings are all welcome. Hope to see you all there!

  • July 21 from 4-5pm
  • July 27 from 5-6pm
  • August 13 from 5:30-6:30pm