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The First Day of Kindergarten: A Grandfather's View

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It seems like yesterday that this beautiful little girl was born and we were visiting her in the hospital. Here it is five years later, and Allie is starting kindergarten tomorrow. Although my heart is warm knowing she has her whole life ahead of her and she is in such good hands, my mind is racing. What should we expect? How should we get involved to make a positive difference? Is she prepared? How will she do? Will she have a great teacher? Will she cry when her mother drops her off? Will her mother cry?

I have been directly involved with schools for 38 years, so if I am experiencing such feelings, what about everyone else? Outstanding schools with excellent leaders make sure that these types of questions are answered. As grandparents, we have very high aspirations for our grandkids and we want them to get a good start.

As it turns out, maybe I didn't need to worry so much. We feel great about the public school which Allie will be attending as there is an outstanding faculty and staff along with excellent leadership. It was great to hear from folks in the community who told us that no matter which kindergarten teacher she is assigned, her experience will be wonderful because they are all outstanding.

After Allie completed her kindergarten screening, she was placed in Mrs. O's class. (During the screening, Allie told the teacher that one of the other teachers in the building, who is a close family friend, was her cousin, which wasn't exactly true)! Then last Thursday the faculty and staff conducted an orientation. That introduction impressed Allie and her family. They left with a firm sense of the school's aspirations and were eagerly anticipating the upcoming school year.

But the orientation didn't end there. My daughter told me that Mrs. O came to visit their home yesterday, two days before the start of school, and everyone was very excited. Allie was so excited about the prospect she took charge of cleaning the whole house. No matter how that visit turned out, the relationship between Allie and her family with Mrs. O will be stronger.

What a wonderful way to launch a child's relationship with a school! Home visits are one of the most powerful ways to do this as Home Works!, Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project, and Kentucky's Henderson County School district's home visiting blitz all illustrate. With school starting, our teachers have so much to do. Yet, they are taking time out of their schedules to make these visits because they realize the importance of building relationships. If the schools in your district are not conducting home visits, I encourage you to advocate for this best practice.

As Allie enters this new phase of her life, the entire family is pulling for her success. We believe it is our responsibility to work with the school in positive ways to ensure that Allie will soar.

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