Kindergartens will be different
a monthly message from Deb Green
The transition to Kindergarten is a very big change for children and their families. It is also something that most families will soon face.
Preparing for this transition can be extremely anxiety provoking. For parents, Kindergarten marks the end of an era of early childhood. Their children are growing up. Every year, I hear PIC families express their anxieties about navigating Kindergarten enrollment, their concerns about school readiness, and their worries about what school their child will attend.
Some children are enrolled at a private or parochial school, some children are enrolled at their neighborhood public school, and some families enter a lottery to try and get into a specific public / charter school.
In Philadelphia, as in other urban areas, issues of equity and diversity are at play during this process and the education system in general. And, sometimes these things are hard to discuss.
But rather than tackle disparities in the system, I want to talk about the children and how we can help them navigate their anxieties and big feelings during this transition.
Children already understand that going to Kindergarten will be different than being at PIC. They will sense the unpredictability of a new classroom. They may feel nervous about making new friends. They may worry about leaving their PIC teachers and friends.
At PIC we often use the language of “some people,” when we discuss differences. We say “some families” celebrate a particular holiday, and “some children” live in a household with a Mom and Dad, while “some children” live with two Moms or two Dads. This works with nearly every area of difference and is easily understood by children.
We want all of our rising Kindergarteners to know that as they leave PIC, “some friends” will go to different schools. “Some children” will attend Penn Alexander next door, and “some children” will attend schools in their own neighborhoods or nearby.
The important message for children this age to hear is that ALL Kindergartens are good places for children.
Now is a time to celebrate our children, their accomplishments, and their growth. Now is a time to acknowledge our children’s fears and reassure them about what lies ahead. In the months ahead pre-k teachers will talk with excitement about what all children will experience in their new schools, rather than the differences in where they are headed. I hope you will, too.