Saturday, May 2, 2015

Welcoming Our Newest Students and Their Families

Kindergarten Orientation is a 90 minute program I present each year in May.  Our school prepares a morning for our newest students to visit a "real" Kindergarten classroom while their parents meet with the myself and other school personnel to hear about their job roles and how as parents they can best prepare their child for Kindergarten. It's a relaxed and friendly way to meet our newest students and their families.

The morning starts with my Leadership Club students waiting in the front office to escort parents and our future Kindergartners to the Media Center to sign in and get name tags. As they are walking from our office to the Media Center, the Leadership Club students chat with our young friends helping them to feel comfortable and offer a  "mini-tour" pointing out various buildings on campus along the way.  Upon reaching the Media Center, students are signed-in and given a color coded animal name tag to wear which determines the class they will visit. Parents are provided a folder of materials (in English and Spanish) about our school including school calendar, summer activity suggestions, our PBIS matrix, websites for kids, and  child information sheet, and 3 QR codes.  One QR code will direct them to
my school website, another to the PowerPoint presentation for the morning, and another to my School Counseling brochure with contact information.  Coffee, doughnuts, and juice are available for parents, but it's usually the kids who end up eating them.  Once everyone is signed-in, the Leadership Club students and adult volunteers take our young visitors to their respective classrooms for center activities, story time, craft, and snack. After a special welcome by our Principal and Assistant Principal the adults get down to business.

Parent Presentation
The parent presentation starts with an introduction of myself and my role as the School Counselor. This is a great opportunity to share the correct name for your job title and a brief explanation of what a School Counselor does.  Next I begin introducing the various staff our parents should know like the cafeteria manager who talks about food allergies and the School Nurse who discusses medication and special needs. Our School Social Worker talks about the importance of regular attendance and the PTA president shares all the great things our PTA does and invites parents to support their child and our school by joining.  The front office receptionist stops in to talk about checking-in when visiting on campus,  how to check your child out of school, and calling in when your child is absent.  We also have the Volunteer Coordinator stop by to encourage parents to fill out volunteer forms.  After introducing our staff, I have a PowerPoint presentation I share with parents about some of the details of our school and Kindergarten program. Topics like curriculum, transportation, lunch procedures, dress code, our parent portal and on line grade book, and after school care are some of the things discussed.  To close we have a brief question and answer time, then the students are returned to the Media Center to their parents. The students have had a great morning, are excited about Kindergarten, and some are ready to come back and join us the next day.

The PowerPoint above is specific for my school and county. However, I hope if you are in need of a presentation you will find it helpful to use as a template in designing one specific for your school.

Do you do a Kindergarten Orientation at your school?  What does your program look like?  I am always looking for ideas to make mine better.  Please feel free to share below.

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