"My baby is headed to kindergarten – now what?" Preparing for Kindergarten with Principal Ms. Kristen White
Ms. Kristen White, Haine Elementary School Principal
Ms. White is in her 28th year in education, with 17 years in administration. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Slippery Rock University, masters in Educational Leadership from Carlow University and is defending her dissertation in August 2022, to obtain her Doctorate in Special Education.
IN THIS EPISODE, WE WILL REVIEW
Voices E64 Kristen White
File Name: Voices E64 Kristen White.mp3
File Length: 00:09:08
FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)
00:00:02:26 - 00:00:10:06
Introduction: Welcome to Voices, a national award winning podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District.
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Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff. Today we're talking with Kristen White, principal at Haine Elementary School. Thanks for joining us today.
00:00:18:27 - 00:00:20:03
Kristen White: Thank you, Jeff, for having me.
00:00:20:14 - 00:00:39:23
Jeff Krakoff: So today we want to talk about something that pretty much every parent goes through. It's an exciting day, but may be a dreaded day. My child's getting ready to go to kindergarten. I know you're a parent. Can you share some of the things that you can remember that were going through your mind at that time?
00:00:40:15 - 00:01:10:01
Kristen White: Sure. As a parent, my son is 25, so that was many years ago. But I remember having the fears and anxiety, but also the excitement for him in starting school and what that would be for him. So it can be a mix of emotion. We know that. We also want to make sure that we provide the best opportunity for parents to be prepared prior to that day. And that's one of the reasons I'm happy to be with you today.
00:01:10:19 - 00:01:26:22
Jeff Krakoff: Great. Why don't we just start with some of the details? There's lots of things parents need to know, whether it's what time is the bus? What bus? Who's the teacher? What's the best place for parents to go to prior to the school year for their kindergartener?
00:01:27:15 - 00:02:07:14
Kristen White: Sure, we would ask that parents reference the Seneca Valley parent portal. We can also have access to information on our web page at www.Svsd.Net individual buildings also have items posted. August the 11, class assignments will go out, which will be the homeroom at that time for our students and the parent portal cards were mailed last week. So if any parent has not received that at that time, if you would simply reach out to our central office from individual schools were not able to give that information out, but our central office would be able to help any parent with that information.
00:02:08:02 - 00:02:25:03
Jeff Krakoff: Great. So that's kind of prior to this school year as parents are getting ready and the kids are getting ready. Do you have any specific tips in preparing, whether it's academically, whether it's emotionally?
00:02:26:06 - 00:02:57:00
Kristen White: So that goes back to our initial way that we began this conversation. Our youngest scholars are going to take their cue from you. So as a parent, we know, again, it's a mixed emotion day for you week, several weeks. But share the excitement with them about this new adventure. Certainly preparing our students as far as reading books, that's a simple way. Some examples are The Night Before Kindergarten, the 12 Days of Kindergarten, Pete the Cat.
00:02:57:02 - 00:03:29:19
Kristen White: There's a really cute book on Rocking in My School Shoes is the title. Clifford Goes to Kindergarten and my personal favorite, The Kissing Hand. So those are just some stories that we can do with our our children prior to the start, over the next couple of weeks, establishing a bedtime, which I know is difficult too, because we all enjoy the summer and it's coming to an end and we don't necessarily want our kids to need to go to bed at a regular time, but that bedtime routine with a positive story at the end of the day.
00:03:30:13 - 00:04:11:22
Kristen White: Consistency for that prior to the start of school and discussions about what it might look like and maybe some fears that they might have or questions that they might have prior to the school year. Academically, talking about simple patterns, measuring, identifying our letters, numbers, shapes, puzzles, certainly opening up those conversations emotionally with might be the first time they're leaving their parent for that big chunk of the day. How are they feeling about that? And what as a parent can we do as a school that might be able to assist with that as well? One of my favorite pieces is the school supplies.
00:04:11:24 - 00:04:38:07
Kristen White: I know that was always a big piece, packing the backpacks together, going to the store. After you received those lists of what school supplies might be necessary. They're posted on the individual school web pages, but they're just suggestions. So we certainly welcome parents to ask questions, but we don't want anyone to feel like you have to go and completely take everything off the shelves.
00:04:38:12 - 00:04:38:27
Jeff Krakoff: Right.
00:04:39:15 - 00:04:50:01
Kristen White: We that's just can be a lot from what's available, but just reference those individual building pages for the school supplies.
00:04:50:09 - 00:04:58:01
Jeff Krakoff: Yeah, I think as as a parent, I think sometimes we go overboard when we go to an Office Depot or something like that.
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Kristen White: Right.
00:04:59:11 - 00:05:14:03
Jeff Krakoff: Now you said there's a list on on this the school sites. But just give us a rough idea. You know, what what kinds of things would the school provide and what kinds of things should parents be thinking about when they are out shopping over the next several weeks?
00:05:14:18 - 00:05:41:21
Kristen White: Sure. Pencil, individual pencil boxes or packs. Teachers, different teachers request different items, whatever's easiest for them. Crayons. And we we do provide a lot of information or a lot of materials here for them. But those individual pieces that they could do will be based on what that particular teacher likes to have in that classroom.
00:05:42:03 - 00:06:04:15
Jeff Krakoff: Got it. And in your experience, just made me think of my kids experiences. I remember one getting on that bus for the first time. I thought they were going to cry and we were going to cry. But another of my children just jumped on, never looked back, and couldn't wait to leave. Can parents read too much into either of those reactions by their children?
00:06:05:03 - 00:06:44:21
Kristen White: Agreed, and that is a tug on the heart for sure, because you can have conflicting feelings about that. You know, the kiddo that jumps on the bus and says, see you later. You know, family does make you feel like, wow, they are not sad to leave me, but I'm having a moment here and that's okay. But I don't think reading too much into that. I think just the excitement in encouraging our children and being a part of that excitement, even when our hearts may be breaking, we really need to put on that that brave face and talk about how wonderful this school experience will be.
00:06:44:23 - 00:07:10:03
Kristen White: All the learning, all the friends, the opportunity for really them to get into school and experience that for perhaps the first time is an exciting part of that first couple of weeks. We want that learning to continue and that passion to continue. So that's part of what we want to build together as parents and the school community is that love of learning and that confidence in our children.
00:07:10:20 - 00:07:24:07
Kristen White: Great. So I'm sure that with all the good information you just provided, parents are still going to have questions. Maybe they need reassurance. Where do they go? Who do they talk to for any questions they might have?
00:07:25:00 - 00:08:19:24
Kristen White: Sure. We are very excited to begin this school year. Administratively, our teachers are already in, they are already working there, preparing their rooms. We encourage our parents and guardians to call us with questions or concerns. We want to provide any additional support during the first few weeks of school, in particular with our school counselors, our school administrators and the child's teacher. Once that information, as I said, becomes available on August the 11. But the biggest piece is that we will partner with parents and families for their child's success, and that will be a journey for us as we continue to to move through, but we really do feel that that such a critical piece of making sure that our children know that we are in this together and we are partners and and are so excited to begin this new school year. And it will be here before we know it. Our first day is August the 23.
00:08:20:00 - 00:08:29:24
Kristen White: All right. Well, all good stuff. Do you have any last words of wisdom that you'd like to share with parents as they get ready to to start this process?
00:08:30:16 - 00:08:53:25
Kristen White: I would just say, please know that we are here for you. We are here for your child. We will have all hands on deck. No worries. When your children get here to the buildings, we will have all of our school staff available. But certainly you can call us if you're having concerns or questions about what it may look like when your kiddo gets here. We are available to you and really look forward to an exciting school year.
00:08:54:13 - 00:09:01:11
Jeff Krakoff: All right. Well, thank you so much. Again, that was Kristen White, principal at Haine Elementary. Thanks so much and have a great day.
00:09:02:00 - 00:09:02:17
Kristen White: Thank you.