Kindergarten sign-up signals continued growth in south Simcoe
“Over 3,000 students enroll in our public schools each year, so it’s quite a large process,” says the principal
Every January, both public and Catholic school boards prepare for the start of kindergarten enrollment, and local parents begin preparing their little ones for their first day of “big kid” school.
Katherine McCleary is a mother of two whose youngest child, Daniel, will start preschool in the fall.
When it came to registering her daughter, who is currently in the 2nd grade, McCleary says she was quick to do the task, but this time she admits she’s a little slower in completing all the paperwork.
“It definitely feels like that second child guilt that you’re not that excited about and not that excited about,” she said.
Although her son is ready and excited to start school, the Oro Medonte mother admitted that given the many changes since her daughter started school, she is a little nervous about how things will look for her son leading up to his first Day.
“Our eldest were enrolled in school before the pandemic and were given a welcome pack and there was a certificate for the fridge. … I just don’t know if that’s been lost to the pandemic, because that would be kind of sad,” McCleary said. “They used to do things to get kids excited. Claire got to test drive the school bus and (got) a tour of her classroom. There were so many things to get the kids excited about school.”
No matter what fall looks like for him, McCleary said her son is just excited to finally be joining his older sister.
“As the oldest child in kindergarten, he is ready to go to school. He’s ready to be with the big kids,” she said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully a full and full school year because (our) eldest didn’t have that experience.
“Hopefully this year will be – fingers crossed – the first full year of school she’s done. We just hope this JK class gets a real school experience.”
That excitement will definitely be mixed with some sadness when the time comes, she added.
“I’m sure the sadness will come in the first week of school when it becomes real because it’s the paperwork and the reminders of having to be home to get them off the bus and all those JK and SK – Getting things done,” McCleary said.
Children turning four in 2023 will be able to start school this September, and since online enrollment for the 2023-24 school year opened on January 1, the Simcoe County School Board has seen kindergarten enrollments increase by about 32 percent in the Compared to the same period last year, according to the board.
Though kindergarten registration with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board isn’t officially scheduled to begin until Jan. 31, Superintendent of Student Engagement and Learning (K-12) Christine Monteiro-Almeida said they expect to welcome about 1,500 new kindergarten students this fall.
Monteiro-Almeida noted that the number will serve to sustain the Catholic Board’s growth over the past few years, adding that the board continues to see significant growth in Tottenham, Bradford and Innisfil.
“There are two new schools opening but we don’t have dates yet – one in Tottenham and one in Bradford and we have a new school in Innisfil which will open in September,” she said.
Although the Catholic Board isn’t scheduled to officially start for a few weeks, families can register now, she noted, adding that early registration helps the board plan for the 2023-24 school year. But even those who only enroll shortly before the first day of school are “received with open arms”.
Chris Samis, superintendent of student achievement (K-6) and special education for the public body, noted that they also expect continued enrollment growth, particularly in the southern parts of the county.
Both Samis and Monteiro-Almeida said that while registration will continue to take place throughout the year, board members definitely welcome early registration as it allows them to plan accordingly.
“We see over 3,000 students enrolling in our public schools every year, so it’s a pretty big process,” Samis said, adding that early enrollment isn’t just a benefit for school boards, as it allows them to do so to plan for the fall in terms of staffing. but also gives them the opportunity to build a relationship with the families of the incoming students.
“It gives us a group of people to communicate with to see if extra support (a child) is needed. Did you previously have additional support? So it’s not just about conveying your information and it’s going into the great abyss,” he added.
“It starts to develop that bond between a family and their child’s school. If it’s their first child, is it a pretty big step for families to think about what September 2023 and kindergarten looks like?
“The first part is registration – and yes, the sooner the better because that way we know where we need to be in terms of staff and operational parts, like e.g. B. where we need portable devices or buses,” said Samis. “It sounds operational, but it’s emotional and there’s a whole range of things that start on this journey — most notably the beginning of this school-family relationship.”
Officials from both bodies say they are excited to welcome new families back to the school, something they have not been able to do since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we come out of COVID-19, we’re going back to where families have the opportunity to come in and see what the school is like and meet the teachers and educators. It’s all coming back and we’re thrilled it’s coming back,” Samis said. “The transition of a three-and-a-half or four-year-old to school is something that takes time to do.
“Going there for an evening in the spring to meet staff, getting ready for the bus ride…these are all things we’re thrilled to have back.”
These types of face-to-face events are important in creating both communication and connections between a school and families.
“Parents give us their greatest treasure by giving families the opportunity to connect with teachers and staff and really develop those relationships,” she said.
Families can start the registration process from the registration page on the SCDSB website. Information on registering with the local Catholic board can be found here.