Tracking The Kindergarten Set Is An Adult-size Headache

March 20, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Every Monday, Dorothy D. Mangle picks up the telephone and calls each of the 16 county elementary schools.

Even though the next schoolyear is months away, the director of elementary schools is trying toget a grasp of the number of kindergarten pupils who will enter Carroll classrooms in September.

Parents with children in the school system have been sent kindergarten information forms to fill out and return to schools.

"We tryto keep a tab on the numbers," Mangle said. "We need to get a feel for the number of kids we will have next fall. I'll be calling the schools all summer long."

School officials will have a better handle on enrollment after kindergarten registration week, which began Monday and continues through Friday.

Parents or guardians of children eligible to enter kindergarten in September should get in touch with the elementary school serving their residential area.

To enter kindergarten during the 1991-1992 school year, children must be 5 years old on or before Dec. 31, 1991. Parents need to present a copy of their child's birth certificate or other legal document to verify the youngster's legal name and birth date at the time of registration.

Although Mangle will continue to track numbers, school officials will not do anything with the figures for a couple of months. Decisions on class sizes, staff and bus routes will be made in the summer.

The tracking provides school officials with some picture of what will happen in the fall. Sixty percent of the children who enter kindergartenduring any given year have been identified by the weekly phone calls.

"Some schools are very accurate with their numbers," Mangle said. "Some have much more transient populations."

Mangle said it is "critical" that parents with kindergarten-age children register them as soon as possible.

If they don't, and if significant growth in enrollment is experienced at the last minute, school officials could have to establish another kindergarten class at a particular school, disrupting existing schedules.

"That's not easy, especially if information on kindergarten has already gone out to parents," she said. "We may have to change some things. We try to avoid that. A lot of parents have schedules they need to work around."

The size and number of kindergarten classes at a particular school are dictated by enrollment and transportation routes. The task for school officials this year is compounded by the opening of two new elementary schools -- Spring Garden in Hampstead and Piney Ridge in Eldersburg.

The opening of Spring Garden means the realignment of the student enrollment at Hampstead and Manchester elementaries. Because school officials still are working on redistricting plans for Piney Ridge, Mangle said she was uncertain how nearby elementary schools would be affected.

Before school starts, parents will receive letters stating that their child is in a morning or afternoon class and what bus he or she will ride.

Most schools will have an orientation program or open house for kindergarten students before school starts, Mangle said. Some schools allow students to visit classrooms in the spring. Parents should check the elementary school in their area for more information, she said.

Mangle offered the following tips to prepare children for kindergarten:

* Talk positively and enthusiastically about school and the opportunities to meet new friends and ride a school bus. Assign some importance to the first day of school.

* Read to them on a daily basis. The Carroll County Public Library has lists of recommended reading for preschool and kindergarten children. By reading to children, parents are helping to prepare them for their academic years.

* Talk to the child. Communication is one of the most critical skillsfor a child to learn. A child needs to be able understand directionsand communicate with others.

"Language is very important, and simple, everyday conversations can help a child," Mangle said.

* Establish good schedules. Parents should be moving their children toward an appropriate bed time. Children need time to adjust to a schedule; establishing a routine will prove advantageous in the fall.

* Walkto school or around the school with the child so he or she becomes acquainted with the building and knows that it is a building just likea house, but larger.

"These are little things, but by doing some of them now, you're preparing them for the start of an important experience and a new school year," Mangle said.

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