GREENFIELD — On any given day in a Hancock County kindergarten class, you’ll find children reading, identifying patterns and performing basic math problems.
It’s the stuff that used to fill a school day for first-graders. But as academic standards have become more rigorous, more advanced skills are expected of even the youngest learners.
That’s why every year, teachers encourage parents whose children are kindergarten-bound to start laying the foundation of their education early.
An event at the Hancock County Public Library this weekend seeks to help parents do just that.
The third annual “Jump into Kindergarten,” to be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will provide parents and children with information and hands-on activities to prepare them for the start of school later this summer.
The event is cosponsored by the library and education sorority Alpha Delta Kappa.
Diana Johnson, one of the committee members helping plan “Jump into Kindergarten,” said parents who visit the event will be given the chance to acquaint their child with some of the same activities they’ll later see in the classroom.
“They can actually have a hands-on experience,” said Johnson, who is also a kindergarten teacher at J.B. Stephens Elementary School. “The teacher … explains how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.”
About 10 stations will be set up in the library’s community room. At each station, teachers will model a skill a kindergarten-bound child will need, then work with parents on ways to help the child develop that skill.
The event is intended for both parents and children, with hands-on activities to keep the youngsters engaged.
More than 100 people attended the event last year, said Cathy Riley, youth services manager at the library.
Even parents who have already had a child enter school are encouraged to come because requirements change each year.
“It’s always good to get a fresh look with what the teachers are telling them is good to know,” Riley said.
While it might be hard to imagine the start of a new school year before the current one has ended, looking ahead will help to ensure a child’s success, educators say.
Tammy Templeton, who teaches kindergarten at Sugar Creek Elementary, said parents don’t have to buy special tools to spark children’s interest in learning.
Just pay attention to what’s around you and find ways to make it educational, she said.
“There’s lots of things in our environment that we can learn from,” she said. “… They can sound out ‘McDonald’s’ and know those sounds. Even if they’re not sitting every night with a book, there’s ways they can learn.”
A child who has had no intervention at home will be unprepared for the start of school, which can make for a rocky transition, said Leah Bewley, who teaches kindergarten at J.B. Stephens Elementary.
“The gap will just get bigger as the years go on,” she said.
Parent involvement in early learning is especially important for those children who haven’t been to pre-school, said Lori Trapp, also a kindergarten teacher at J.B. Stephens.
“What kindergarten used to be is what pre-school is now,” she said. “Really, nowadays, half your (kindergarten) class will come in knowing the entire alphabet.”
Aside from drilling numbers and letters, parents should also work with their children on following two- and three-step directions and allow their children some independence with basic tasks.
Paying attention, sitting still for activities and listening to adults are all skills that are needed from the first day of kindergarten.
Templeton said teachers depend on parents to take the first steps toward learning at home, long before a child enters the school building.
“We tell our parents that they are their child’s first teacher,” she said, “and it’s teamwork between us and them.”
All four public school corporations in the county are still accepting incoming kindergarteners for the 2014-15 school year.
Southern Hancock: Kindergarten registration begins online on the corporation’s website, http://www.newpal.k12.in.us. Click “Kindergarten pre-registration form” under “Quick Links” on the homepage. Parents may also fill out the form by visiting the elementary school in their district during school hours from 8:35 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each child must also undergo an assessment, and those appointments may be set up by calling the school.
Mt. Vernon: Call the applicable elementary school to set up a registration appointment. Parents need to bring the following: proof of residency; identification card/driver’s license; vaccination records; any court papers referring to custody information; their child’s birth certificate. Parents will also be asked to fill out a general enrollment form, which may be downloaded in advance from the corporation website, http://www.mvcsc.k12.in.us. Click on “New student and kindergarten registration” under the “What’s New” tab.
Eastern Hancock: Parents may set up an appointment to register their child by calling (317) 936-5829. Press 2 to reach the elementary office. Parents need to bring vaccination records, proof of residency and their child’s birth certificate to the meeting.
Greenfield-Central: Registration information is available at all of the corporation elementary schools as well as the corporation office, 110 W. North St., which is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you go
The third annual “Jump into Kindergarten” is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hancock County Public Library. The event will provide parents and children with information and hands-on activities to prepare them for kindergarten. The event is free and does not require advance registration.