As school nears, level of excitement rises

The Savage branch of the Howard County Library helps children learn what to expect in kindergarten this fall


Michael Hale of Laurel had a fun and relaxing summer. He went to the beach with his family and participated in a nature camp and sports camp.

Now he is ready to put those carefree days behind him and begin his career as a pupil. Next week, he will start kindergarten at Laurel Wood Elementary School.

"I want school to start right now," Michael said.

And why is he so eager to say goodbye to summer?

"School is a good way to learn," he said. He is also excited about riding the bus.

Michael and about 15 other children were at the Savage branch of the Howard County Library on Wednesday taking part in a half-hour get-ready-for-kindergarten program called "Kindergarten, Here We Come" run by Rita Snyder, a library associate in the children's department.

Snyder said all the library branches hold similar programs, which include stories, songs and dances, as well as a reminder to parents that the library has plenty of books for beginning readers.

The meeting room had been set up with "activity centers," much like a kindergarten classroom. One table had puzzles on it, another had small musical instruments, and a third had science-related materials, including binoculars, a globe and magnets.

Snyder said attendance of 15 children was typical for such programs, which require advance registration. She started the session by reading a book called Bunny School. After each page, she showed the children the pictures of the bunny students and bunny teacher.

The children sat quietly on the floor while Snyder read.

"You guys are excellent listeners," she said. "You're all ready to go to kindergarten. Are you excited?"

Almost in unison, the youngsters replied: "Yeah!"

Most children in the room would be attending full-day kindergarten, a change from half-day that has been phased into county schools over the past few years.

Mothers who brought their sons and daughters to the library said their youngsters seemed ready to begin their public school careers. The program was a way to transition out of the lazy days of summer.

Denise Davis of Laurel said her daughter, Hannah, who will attend Forest Ridge, has been working on math and writing with the help of her father, Jeremy, a teacher at Bollman Bridge.

"She's definitely ready socially," Davis said.

But her biggest concern is that, until two weeks ago, Hannah still took naps.

"It's scary for me as a parent to put her in school all day," she said. "They don't nap." She's been working on getting her daughter to stay awake all day, so she'll be ready for the school schedule.

Debbi Wolfarth of Laurel said her son, Jason, has been enjoying a summer of beach vacations, swim lessons and family reunions but now seems excited to start school. "He can't wait," Wolfarth said.

She said she visits the library regularly and decided to attend the program as "just another thing to get him ready for school."

Heather Drabenstadt of Savage said she took her son, Jack, to the program, because her daughter, Camryn, who is going into second grade, took part in the same program before she started kindergarten and "really liked it." Jack went to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, took swim lessons and traveled to Pittsburgh over the summer, but he is ready to settle down and start school, he said.

After Snyder had finished an alphabet song that had the kids doing such activities as clapping for the letter C and marching for the letter M, she gave them foam shapes and asked them the difference between rectangles, squares, triangles and circles. She then did a puppet show of Clifford's First School Day. Kids were encouraged to explore the activity centers.

When the families left, Snyder handed out plastic bags containing paper numbers, shapes, and a little tree with apples, that kids can use to do addition and subtraction.

As they were walking toward their car, Denise Davis said to her daughter, "That's just what kindergarten is going to be like for you."

"Will they give us goody bags?" Hannah wanted to know.

"They'll give you homework in your backpack," Davis said.

"Will we have lockers?" Hannah asked.

"You'll have cubbies, probably," Davis said.

Then they drove off, to enjoy the last few days of summer.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.