Wilson County Schools: Register your kindergartners early

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Karmelo Battle sat down for what might well have been the first pop quiz of his public school career.

As an incoming kindergartener at Winstead Elementary School, Karmelo was asked the identify colors, shapes, letters and numbers, count objects and even draw a picture.

Karmelo’s mom, Trynique Battle, had brought her son in early to register him for school.

“I just wanted to get everything out of the way to make sure everything is good and settled and that there are no setbacks,” Battle said.

Wilson County Schools is encouraging parents to register their children of all grades as early as possible.

“We always have a kindergarten registration day in the spring, but lots of parents miss it and think they have to wait until the first day of school to register,” explained WCS public relations director Amber Lynch. “They don’t realize our schools are open all summer, so I just want to remind them of that.”

Lynch plans to send out a message Wednesday night encouraging parents to bring kids in early and not wait until the first day of school to register their children.

Parents with children who will be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31 should register their child at the elementary school serving the attendance zone in which they reside.

“If you would like to call the school ahead of time you can, but no appointment is necessary,” Lynch said.

Schools are open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Fridays. Parents are asked to bring address verification, the child’s birth certificate, immunization records and a health certificate, among other records. For a full listing of necessary documents, visit www.wilsonschoolsnc.net.

Winstead Elementary School Principal Claudia Spencer said registering children early is important.

“It helps if they register ahead of time because we can start planning for the year ahead as far as making classroom assignments, making sure that we have everything they need,” Spencer said. “It is important if they need bus transportation so that we can get the bus garage to make sure they are assigned to a bus. Really, it is planning and organizing.”

Entering school for the first time can be stressful for 5-year-olds. Registering early and having a walk through the school without all of the first-day-of-school hustle and bustle can reduce stress.

“It is easier for the student too because they already know where they are coming,” Spencer said. “It helps because when they come to open house, they will go straight to meet their teacher and to their classroom. It just makes it easier for everyone.”

Associate Superintendent Cheryl Wilson said administrators are trying to keep abreast of registration trends this year.

“Because our enrollment had dropped over the last couple of years, it was my thought that we needed to try to get as many students as we could during the summer so that we can plan accordingly,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we can capture more students if we do this. That will hopefully increase our enrollment.”

Wilson said the school system is starting a program called “A Jump Start to Kindergarten” for the first time this year.

“We are working in connection with Head Start,” she said. “They are helping us design a week.”

The program will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 5-9 at seven elementary schools. Parents will be responsible for transportation. The program’s purpose is to acclimate students to their new schools, help them build relationships with teachers and administrators and learn basics like where to find the bathroom.

Kindergartners will begin their school year on Aug. 26, 27 or 28. Kindergarten will have a staggered start, where one-third of each class will start school on each of those three days, which allows for smaller class sizes on the first three days of school so teachers can give more attention to each individual student.

“If we can get them there to register early, we will better know how many teachers we will need in our classrooms,” Wilson said. “We can provide them the teachers that they need rather than waiting until these students show up on the first day or the fifth day. We can be better prepared and have the teachers in the classrooms at the very beginning. We get the number of teachers based on our enrollment. When our enrollment is not high, then it appears that we are going to lose teachers and we can’t hire people, but when we see that our enrollment numbers are increasing, then our number of teachers is increasing and we can go ahead and get those people into the classrooms.”