Program prepares children for smooth transition into kindergarten

Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, through Durham’s Partnership for Children, wants to make sure every child’s transition into kindergarten is as smooth as possible.

“The transition into this really formal school system can be really hard because 50 percent of the kids who go to kindergarten haven’t ever been to school at all,” said Wren Davisson, Program Coordinator at Durham’s Partnership for Children. “That is five years of their life where they have never experienced sitting in a desk, waiting in line or waiting for their turn.”

Parents and children enjoy dinner at the Blast Off to Kindergarten Night at YE Smith. (Photo Credit: Wren Davisson)

Parents and children enjoy dinner at the Blast Off to Kindergarten Night at YE Smith. (Photo Credit: Wren Davisson)

Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative helps prepare children for a structured learning environment.

The group has transition teams that are formed in four public schools in Durham, including Y.E. Smith Elementary. Davisson said the school is located in a high-poverty area.

“The purpose of the team is to create a transition-to-kindergarten plan for the school,” said Jenny Carolina, Community member on the Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten team. “This plan includes events and activities that introduce new and returning parents and their rising kindergarteners to the school staff, the school, and other families.”

Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten provides activities to prepare the children (and their parents) for the transition to kindergarten. These activities include school tours, and question and answer sessions for the parents. Parents are also introduced to teachers and principals.

“We also model what kindergarten is like for the parents, and we have teachers do activities in the classroom that will give the parents a better understanding of what their children will be doing,” said Davisson. “It gives the children an opportunity to engage with one another too.”

The transition team also has activities that help parents get through the registration process to enroll their child in school.

“Kindergarten is a huge milestone in a child’s life,” said Elaine Erteschik, Communications Manager. “They have dinner and a social time with other incoming kindergarteners, and their families and are given a worksheet that the parents and children can do together.”

Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten encourages parents to be involved with their children. The organization believes that children who know they have the support of their parents will perform better in school.

“You can tell that many of the parents are nervous to see their babies leave for school,” said Carolina. “These events help ease some of that anxiety by letting the parents see that their children are in good hands.”

Davisson said the organization has a mascot known as “Ready Eddy” to help the children feel comfortable going to kindergarten.

“Our goal is to one day have all of Durham’s kindergarteners present in school on the first day,” she said.