This week, Week of the Young Child, is Durham’s first ever Kindergarten Registration Week! Throughout the week and all across Durham, volunteers will be distributing registration packets to rising kindergartners and their families. Yesterday, the Herald-Sun featured an article written by Laura Benson (Partnership Executive Director) and Bert L’Homme (Superintendent of Durham Public Schools) about why kindergarten registration is so important for the long-term success of our children and our community. Please read the excerpt below, and click here for the full article.
Entering kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences. It sets the tone for his or her entire educational experience and lays the foundation for future success in school and life. At Durham Public Schools and Durham’s Partnership for Children, our goal is for every child in Durham to enter kindergarten feeling excited, ready to learn and supported by their school, family and community.
National research shows that nearly 50 percent of children have difficulty with the transition to kindergarten. A smooth transition is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions, and it is out of this shared duty that Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative was born. This deeply collaborative effort between DPS and the Partnership hopes to ensure a smooth start to school, setting a tone for life-long learning as well as empowering parents to become active participants in their children’s education.
On-time enrollment and attendance on the first day of kindergarten are key factors to a quality start to school. For some schools, only a fraction of the projected kindergarteners are enrolled and attend class on day one. When children are not registered on time, it creates difficulties for our schools, the teachers and the families. A smooth transition to school allows for the child and the family to meet their new teachers and become comfortable and familiar with their new school. Unfortunately, when a child enrolls late, it is harder to make the connection between the families and their new schools before the first day.
In 2013, Durham Public Schools had 344 kindergarteners register during the first 40 days of school. This means that almost 10 percent of the rising kindergarten class missed the very first days of their academic career, putting them behind their classmates from the start.
Children who are absent on the first day of kindergarten are more likely to be chronically absent all the way through high school, missing 10 percent of the academic year each year. These early absences have far-reaching and long-term consequences, especially for those students who need school the most and are sometimes getting the least. Chronic absence in kindergarten can leave third-graders unable to read proficiently, sixth-graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation. The missed days in a student’s earliest years are a significant precursor to reduced levels of school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.
So how do we turn this around?
Our best opportunity to reverse this trend lies in early childhood. We must have a unified effort to help children and families make a smooth transition into kindergarten, starting with being registered and present on the first day of school.
We are calling on the whole community to get involved and make a commitment to Durham’s future. Think about what you can do within your own family, your place of business, and your own neighborhood to help get more children registered and in school. Volunteer to help us spread the word this week during Kindergarten Registration Week. Make the first day of school for all children a priority. Join us in our effort to prepare children to succeed, and help us make every day count as we work from the start to graduate Durham.