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Each year around January and February, a special group of parents begin to call and email Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County.

The conversation usually begins with something like, “I can’t believe the time has come!” or, “How did my baby grow up so fast?” These parents have questions about kindergarten, such as how to register their child, when and how to know which school their child should attend, and, how to navigate the school choice option in Pitt County (where some schools have an Open Enrollment policy). Thankfully, as those calls and emails begin to roll in, PPS of Pitt County is able to provide parents a comforting answer: “Attend Kindergarten 101, and you’ll learn everything you need to know!”

Kindergarten 101 is in its fourth year.

It began after a series of community conversations with kindergarten parents that let the organization know that the parents wanted some kind of workshop where they could get their questions answered and gain insight about the kindergarten experience.

Each year, the program has grown, according to PPS of Pitt County, and more and more parents attend the special session. Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County partners with Pitt County Schools and even the area medical center to provide important information to kindergarten parents. Speakers include the school district superintendent, the director of K-5 education, the student assignment coordinator, the lead school nurse, and a pediatrician. Each of these professionals shares helpful information that parents need to know before enrolling their children in kindergarten: registration dates, the open enrollment application process, required medical records, and what parents can do to help their children prepare for kindergarten.

Because not all parents can attend the session, it is recorded through Facebook Live so that parents can watch a video that gives them the necessary information and answers their questions. Parents who are able to attend the session can sign up to tour the schools they are interested in –– a process that happens in the weeks immediately following the Kindergarten 101 information session.

While Kindergarten 101 presents parents a lot of factual information, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County incorporates fun activities into the session. Parents register by filling out a fun name tag, similar to one their children might have on their desk in kindergarten. Manipulatives such as building blocks and counting bears are placed on the tables, along with kindergarten lined paper for note taking. Following each presenter’s remarks, parents learn a bit of trivia, either about kindergarten itself, or about a topic kindergarten students might learn in their planned curriculum. Examples of activities might include having parents respond to questions such as, “Can you spell the name of the place where penguins live? (The A-R-C-T-I-C).” “Do you know how many children in America attend Kindergarten each year? (About 3.5 million).” Correct answers earn prizes for those who give them, like flash cards or kindergarten workbooks.

Editor’s Note: This article by Kylene Dibble, executive director of PPS of Pitt County, contains minor editing from the original story.