Recently, I learned that Governor Inslee signed a bill into law that declared September to be the Month of the Kindergartener to celebrate this extremely important time in our lives as learners. October is also time once again for leaders to rejuvenate their intentional focus on strong beginnings for children by attending the Early Learning Leadership Brunch to be held at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge on October 29th. This season, with its new beginnings, is making me think back to my niece, Angelina’s, first day of kindergarten last year. It’s amazing to think that in such a short period of time she has grown from an excited and nervous young girl whose backpack looked bigger than she was to a confident and capable school kid.
Angelina and her parents transitioned well into elementary school with the help of family connection meetings, and the collaboration between her preschool and kindergarten teachers before school even started last year. It’s clear that this positive start, early on, really helped her to hit the ground running to thrive and grow tremendously throughout Kindergarten.
When I think about the 80,000 children who start kindergarten every year in Washington, I wonder about their initial experiences and how they shape their learning for the next 13 years and beyond. Luckily, many of my friends are kindergarten teachers and are also some of the most patient and supportive people I’ve come across. It’s clear that they are poised to work with young learners, based on the strengths and needs that they reveal through the WaKIDS assessment, to develop and grow throughout school in many areas of learning. My friends have shared with me how important it is to spend time during this first year helping students learn academic as well as social and emotional skills through opportunities for purposeful play. With a full day to engage with these young learners, there is now time to dedicate to this strong foundation.
Kindergarten is a truly unique, precious, and sometimes challenging time when children, parents, and teachers begin to establish relationships, routines, and understandings that will support them as they move through school. I’m so very grateful that Angelina has been supported by the phenomenal teachers and systems in place to give her a strong start. And I, for one, am thrilled to celebrate Kindergartners throughout this season and beyond and will hope to reconnect with all of you at the Early Learning Leadership Brunch later this month!