By Jeanna Baxter White
For children who don’t have an older sibling or have never been to an elementary school, words like principal, cafeteria, and media center are foreign concepts.
Davie County Preschool is filling those gaps by providing rising kindergarteners with a book containing pictures of the elementary school that they will be attending this fall. There is an individualized booklet for each of Davie County’s six elementary schools created with pictures provided by teachers at the school-based Pre-K programs. Entitled “What is an Elementary School?” the books include photos of the exterior of the school, the principal and assistant principal, media center, cafeteria, gym, a kindergarten classroom, as well as contact information for the elementary schools and information about kindergarten registration.
Like Planning a Vacation
“It may seem like a really simple idea, but if you compare going to elementary school for the first time with the idea of planning a vacation to a place you’ve never been before, it makes so much sense,” said Stephanie Nelson, preschool collaborative teacher for Davie County Schools. “When planning a vacation, we like to see images and learn about unique features of our destination before we go. Giving rising kindergartners and their families a book with pictures and new school vocabulary helps everyone learn about their upcoming adventure and eases fears.”
According to Nelson, the goals of the books are:
- Introduce rising kindergartners to their elementary school
- Teach new vocabulary such as the words “principal” or “cafeteria”
- Include families in a transition activity as they read the book to their child over the summer
- Reduce transition fears for both children and parents by helping the school seem inviting
- increase registration in kindergarten screening with the parent note on the back page of the book
Where to Get Your Books
The books are being distributed in the four private child care based NC Pre-K classrooms. Each elementary school received copies to share with students and families that attended the Rising Kindergarten Lunch on April 20th, or for other points of contact with rising kindergartners.
“Introducing kindergarten students to the school they will be attending makes the transition more comfortable and the student more confident,” said Karen Stephens, principal at William R. Davie Elementary School. “It’s a wonderful idea to have children seeing key sight words and familiar faces. I appreciate the Davie County Preschool and the DavieLEADS initiative.”
DavieLEADS – Inspiring Innovation In Early Childhood Literacy
Funding for the booklets was provided through DavieLEADS (Literacy Empowers All in Davie to Succeed), a five-year early literacy initiative created through a $2.5 million grant from the Mebane Charitable Foundation.
Larry Colbourne, president of the Mebane Foundation, was thrilled with the novel idea and said, “When we set out on these larger, more comprehensive partnerships one of the natural things that happens is high-quality teachers and administrators come up with innovative ideas to address problems, and in turn the result is something like this amazing little book, “What is an Elementary School?” I’m actually surprised a children’s book author and publisher haven’t come up with something like this. Think about it, in North Carolina alone I estimate there are about 125,000 children entering kindergarten every year. What an opportunity to support children and families, and just think of it, one of our own came up with this idea. I love it!”