Back to School: Kindergarten prep is not just for students

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 9:56 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Back to school is always an exciting time, even more so for those first-time kindergarten students — or should we say, parents.

Being the mother of a first-time kindergartner this year, I set out for answers to see if I will turn into a ball of tears or joy, or a combination of both, on Aug. 25.

I headed to Willow Crest Elementary School, where I met Principal Dr. Dianna Beltran, who gave me the rundown on what’s to come and what to expect on that first day of school. Her first advice for parents is to relax.

“Trust your teachers, they’re kindergarten teachers because they’re angels right like they’re ready to get your children ready for school,” she said.

Beltran’s kids are older, but even she still remembers taking her children to school for the first time and not wanting to leave.

“I literally stood at the window peeking in like a voyeur making sure my daughter was okay,” she said. “I know parents feel that way, so I’m there to assure them that I’m here to keep your kids safe.”

But it doesn’t just fall on the teachers. There are things we can do as parents too, like talking to our kids about sharing and teaching them to advocate for themselves.

“If they need something like using the restroom or not sure where the cafeteria is, go talk to an adult, go talk to your teacher,” Beltran said.

The principal reminded parents that their children should know how to open and unpack their lunch, as well as recognize their names. And with winter coming, Beltran suggests parents let their children put on their own clothing.

“What do we do as parents, we dress our kids right, ‘come on, let’s go, let me help you with your snow pants, let me help you with your jacket,’” she said. “But now having them start to practice that on their own so that they can get themselves ready to go out for recess.”

She also wants parents to speak up, ask questions and share their concerns because that’s what educators are there for.

“Ask how they’re eating, ask how you can support them at home,” she said. “Get those little updates.”

If they haven’t already, Beltran said kindergarten teachers have what’s called Kinder Academy. It’s a chance to bring you and your child in to gauge their skills and see the classroom. She said parents and students should use that time to ask questions and get familiar with the space before their first day of school.

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