Reaching Out to Kindergarten Families
For more information about enrolling a child in kindergarten, go to Kindergarten.
AUGUST 10, 2020 – On Thursday Aug. 6, Gibson Elementary held a drive-up kindergarten enrollment day.
While parents were enrolling their children in kindergarten, the kindergarteners-to-be could meet teachers and other staff members and visit with a unicorn, a bear and Ready Freddy, the school system’s kindergarten mascot.
Parents could also have their children receive the necessary health assessments at the Mobile Health Clinic set up in the parking lot in front of the school.
People at Gibson and other schools are working hard to have parents of children who will be 5 years old by Aug. 31 enroll their children in kindergarten.
At Gibson, said Principal Ian Olsen, members of the staff have been working to get the word out by doing such things as distributing flyers in the Gibson community, posting notices in apartment complexes, and making phone calls.
Because of COVID-19, people at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County elementary schools have not been able to reach out in some of the ways they normally would and, kindergarten enrollment is down a bit from previous years at this point.
Olsen was delighted to report that the drive-up enrollment day had been a success and a number of new students had enrolled.
He also thanked members of the staff for coming in. With 10-month employees not yet being paid, they were volunteering their time.
“Ninety percent of the people have volunteered today,” Olsen said. “They want to come in and support Gibson.”
The staff members on hand included kindergarten teacher Lizette Money, kindergarten assistant Elif Erginer, and Instructional Facilitator Jennifer McCarthy.
Money has been a teacher for more than 20 years. With students learning at home, the end of this past school year and preparing for the coming school year have brought serious challenges, she said.
Money and others are working hard to make sure that students receive the best possible instruction. For the coming school year, the school system’s technology department has added online programs designed to help both students and parents to the school system’s website.
Money said she has spent many hours during what would traditionally be time off learning the tools and procedures that will be used.
She is looking forward to working with students.
“I am ready to go to work,” Money said.
Both Money and Erginer also talked about how, having children of their own at home, they know many of the challenges that parents face.
“We feel the struggle,” Erginer said.
One tool that will help parents this year is the ability to use an online program that will enable them to follow their child’s work online.
One thing that will be hard about the beginning of this coming year, McCarthy said, is not having met some of the students in person.
Although the 2019-20 school year ended with students learning at home, the staff members had gotten to know them in person during the earlier part of the school year.
With kindergarten students in particular, McCarthy said, many of them at shy when they first meet someone. So it will be a challenge to get to know them and make them comfortable virtually.
At least the first nine weeks of this school year will be virtual. Some teachers will teaching from their classroom in the school. Some will be teaching from home. Some will teach from both school and home.
Olsen also noted that, throughout the week of Aug. 10-14, Gibson will be offering people who need a teaching device such as a computer for their child the opportunity to pick up one.
The people with the school system are eager to make sure that every child who is eligible for kindergarten is enrolled.
The process can be completed online. Parents are encouraged to go online to find their child’s residential school and to begin the enrollment process.
“The online enrollment is up and available,” said Vanessa Osborne, the Transitions Coordinator for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS).
As part of that process, parents will need to make sure that children have had the necessary health assessments and immunizations.
Parents with questions can check at the school where their child will be going.
In addition to making sure that everything has been taken care of so that a child can attend, enrolling as soon as possible helps elementary schools make sure they have the proper number of teachers and teacher assistants.
Health assessments are available at the Bulldog Health Center (336-703-4273) on the campus of Mineral Springs elementary and middle schools, at the Forsyth County Health Department (336-703-3100) and at Mobile Health Clinics at elementary schools.
Call Pam Benton at 336-703-4273 to schedule appointments or get more information.