Youngsters visit school in first-grade trial run Summer program gets them ready for real thing

July 25, 1996|By S. Mitra Kalita | S. Mitra Kalita,SUN STAFF

The difference between kindergarten and first grade is clear to Ryan Wingate.

"I get to eat in the cafeteria," the incoming first-grader at High Point Elementary School in Pasadena said yesterday as he colored on a paper plate.

Ryan, who turns 6 in September, was among about 25 children and their parents who attended a workshop on getting ready for first grade yesterday.

Eating lunch, riding the bus and learning to read ranked high on the children's lists of what they looked forward to in the first grade.

"This officially makes her a big kid," said Leah Alvey as she watched her daughter Sarah play with the other children.

Making new friends was the theme of the day, as High Point guidance counselor Diane Holmes read the children a story about a fish who had no friends. "The Rainbow Fish" eventually learned that one way to make friends was to give away his shiny scales to the other fish in the sea.

"You see, boys and girls, you want to make new friends by sharing," Holmes said to the circle of children around her.

Schoolchildren, especially the younger ones, benefit from even a few hours over the summer at their school, where they may do little more than play alphabet games and work on puzzles to get re-acquainted with school, said Movita Pickens, who retired a few weeks ago as guidance coordinator for county schools.

"There are a lot of readiness activities," she said.

As they colored fish on paper plates, sang songs, counted to 10 and identified animals in size order, the children showed little sign of anxiety about next year.

"I'm excited," said Austin Grant. "I'm going to have fun in first grade."

His mother, like most parents yesterday, was a different story.

"It's so scary. He's letting go of dependence on me," said Monica Grant of Pasadena. "I guess he'll pick up good and bad habits from the other children."

Larry Horner said first grade is just what his 5-year-old, Jonathon, needs.

"He needs the interaction with the other kids," he said. "I'm not nervous. He loved kindergarten and is looking forward to first grade."

Many parents said the longer days of first grade would be a big jump from kindergarten.

"It's kind of ironic to think he'll be in school full time for the next 12 years," said Dawn Kostick, the mother of one boy and aunt of another starting first grade at High Point. "It's hard to let go."

Holmes said this is the 12th year the school has run the program for kindergarten and first-grade students.

"It gives [the children] the opportunity to be able to feel comfortable coming into school. They get to make new friends, review their letters and numbers feel more familiar," she said.

Tracy Crane doesn't question that her daughter Jessica will love her first day of school Aug. 26.

"But for a parent, it's just hard to send her off for the whole day," Crane said with a sigh.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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