Kindergarten is a major milestone for your little one––and for your whole family. If your oldest child will start kindergarten in 2020, the transition from being a young family to a school-aged family is likely to be accompanied by the emotional experience of “the end” of the early years of childhood. If, on the other hand, your youngest is the one to start kindergarten, there are plenty of emotions with this experience, too. Either way, kindergarten means your family will adopt the rhythm of the school year, and your kindergartner must grow accustomed to the classroom and the demands of academic learning, so it’s a critically important transition, too.
As we work our way to the halfway point of the school year, we wanted to learn how this year’s kindergarten class––two classrooms of 17 students each––has navigated the transition to school. What brought them to RCLS in the first place? What expectations did they have about kindergarten, and have those expectations been met? What is the best part of kindergarten? What challenges were presented, and how did they overcome them?
If you have a child ready (or possibly ready) to start kindergarten in 2020, we know you have some of the same questions. In the experiences of kindergarten families this year, perhaps you’ll find an answer to a question you have, a shadow of your own expectations for kindergarten, or a reality that you hope will be your own. Read on to learn why current kindergarten parents chose RCLS for their child’s first school experience. Learn, too, what those children and their parents encountered––blessings and a few bumps in the road––in the precious first weeks of school. We offer these experiences to you in "their own words," because, well--I sure couldn't have said it better myself.
Before your child started kindergarten, what hopes or expectations did you have of a kindergarten program or a school in general?
"I expected the kindergarten program to help my children feel welcome and comfortable with the transition to school. I expect ongoing, honest communication on how my kids are doing. I also am looking for parent resources on what I can do to best help my kids succeed, as this is the first time I am the parent of a school-aged child."
"I expect my kids to feel safe, valued, important – and loved and respected by their teachers and friends. I expect them to learn and be challenged yet encouraged and helped when that extra time is needed. Given they spend much of their day at school, I expect my [children] to be a part of a community where they feel they are part of something bigger – yet understand they are unique and free to be themselves. I want my kids to be excited to go to school and learn."
Why did you enroll your son or daughter at RCLS?
"We ended up in the RCLS Early Childhood program [last year] a bit by chance, [. . .] but at the start of the school year, there was a parent meeting where different staff came to talk to the parents. Someone came in and talked about how everyone in that school LOVED each and every child here. I felt instantly comforted in a way I don’t think I would have elsewhere. We had several experiences throughout the ECDC school year that made it clear to us that RCLS was the place we wanted to send our kids for grade school. The caring, respectful feeling you get when walking in the door kept us here. Additionally, RCLS has a reputation for top-notch academics, which was also important to us."
“We wanted [our daughter] to be able to incorporate faith into her day-to-day learning. We also love the small class sizes and the sense of community. We wanted to go to a school that we could get to know the children, parents, teachers, and all the staff.”
“I enrolled my son in RCLS because of the systematic Bible education that takes place over the years. [. . .] I also was impressed with the small-town, homey feel of the school and staff. There is a level of personability here that I couldn't find elsewhere. I have come to love the school chapel services (something I never had growing up), and I participate with this weekly. It is such a blessing.”
“We enrolled our son at RCLS because we wanted him to have a Christian education with high academic standards and small class sizes. We felt very welcomed into the school community during our tour and knew RCLS was a community we wanted our son to be part of.”
“Having the opportunity to send our kids to a school the provides a Christian education that also challenges them academically was a no-brainer. The small class sizes and the immediately welcoming, family-type environment we felt when we first visited reassured us even more that RCLS was the right place for us. It’s obvious that the faculty and staff LOVE not only what they do but the kids as well. Knowing that makes us feel confident are kids are at the right place.”
How has RCLS met your expectations for a school?
"All of the RCLS staff are outstanding at making my family feel welcomed. My kids (including the one still too young for school) walk around each morning finding teachers and staff to hug. Everyone always has time to stop and give a little hug; it is so sweet. We had some difficulty with morning drop-offs at the start of the school year, but the teachers [. . .] went above and beyond to raise our girls’ confidence and have really turned things around. Both kindergarten teachers are great communicators, giving at least weekly newsletters to help us know what the kids are doing. There are never any surprises. I also appreciate the resources they have put together for us to work on at home and the tips they put in their newsletters."
"We wanted our son to enjoy going to school, to make friends, and to develop a love for learning. RCLS has exceeded our expectations! Our son is eager to go to school every day and has grown as a person and a student so much in the first quarter alone."
"There is a familiarity here in the education that brings me back to my childhood, yet, at the same time, there is a modern implementation of these things. It is reassuring that the teachers attend seminars to keep their skills sharp and up-to-date. I feel like I'm kept in the loop about my son's learning for the day, but I also have the opportunity to participate with the teacher (from home or at school) in his learning, as well."
"The teachers and staff are what set the school apart in my eyes. They go above and beyond in their teaching and care of the students."
"RCLS has far exceeded my expectations both academically and socially. I love how my kids are excited to learn – and have been challenged academically. Seeing them excited about the projects they do and talk about the things they are learning is refreshing. And the small family environment is icing on the cake. Seeing my kids walk the halls and having students and other teachers greet them my name tells me that my kids are important to everyone at RCLS."
What is the best part of kindergarten?
"The staff has been great working with the kids (and parents) on this big life transition."
"The best part of kindergarten at RCLS is watching our son learn foundational skills that will help him grow in faith, increase his independence, develop his own friendships, and nurture his love of learning all while being surrounded by a community of love and grace."
"I love getting to know everyone and listening to [our daughter] talk about her experiences and everything she is doing at school."
"The best part is hearing my son's stories about what happened during the day. This brings joy to my heart because I was anxious about how he would do making friends. He seems to be doing just fine without my help!"
"The best part of kindergarten for my son is the relationships he’s making. The best part for me as a parent is seeing his excitement."
"Without question, Mrs. Andersen is the best. She is a gift from the Lord."
What is your child's favorite thing about kindergarten at RCLS?
"I get a very enthusiastic and consistent answer to this question: RECESS!"
"Our daughter’s teacher––Mrs. Bartsh––is amazing. She is so kind and thoughtful. She truly cares for all of the children and she is great at inspiring them to learn and supports them when they get frustrated."
"My kindergartner loves the friends he is making––and recess!"
"Mrs. Andersen. She has very intentionally built a relationship with our son so that he would trust her. She has gotten to know him and the things that he loves to help encourage him in his learning. He [struggled with] school for the first three weeks but now looks forward to it each day."
"Mrs. Bartsh! See attached picture:)"
How does kindergarten serve as the "foundation" of your child's school years?
"My girls have already found a love of school. They have come so far already in their confidence. I can see the foundation of learning [being formed] in them without them even realizing."
"Learning to read and write is really the foundation for learning. Teachers are spending a great deal of energy on these [in the RCLS classroom] while also making them fun and exciting."
"The RCLS kindergarten program is so excellent––well-rounded. It is helping my son grow as a balanced individual."
"A successful kindergarten year, where a child falls in love with learning and school and develops friendships, is foundational for the years that follow. When kids realize school can be fun – and they are loved and valued by their peers and teachers – it makes them want to go. Hearing my son’s teacher talk about his quirks, his temperament, his strengths, his weaknesses – she is clearly paying attention to more than just if he completed his worksheet. I know he truly knows his teacher cares about him – and that alone makes him want to come to school and to do well."
Have there been any challenges to overcome? This is the part new kindergarten parents don’t always know to expect. But take heart, say current parents. It doesn’t take long to adjust, and there are resources to support your child as needed.
"The biggest challenge for us has probably been adjusting to how tired our kindergartner was at the end of the day."
"A full day of school and a more structured environment [brought out] disruptive behaviors [for our son], which led to early intervention and therapies."
"Our son’s transition into kindergarten was challenging, but he’s doing great now. The most he’d been away from home was for preschool two mornings a week for 2.5 hours, so kindergarten was a big change. He’s had some struggles with anxiety and developed a vocal tic as a result. Thankfully, his tic has greatly subsided now. Mrs. Bartsh gave him coping techniques at school and communicated daily with me when his tic was at its worse. We feel very blessed that he has such a great teacher who took the time to love and support him as he adjusted to school!"
What advice do you have for future kindergarten parents? Current kindergarten parents note that the transition to kindergarten is not always easy at first, but they encourage parents to engage with RCLS’s expert teachers, who graciously and wisely support the whole family through this important transition.
"Be engaged with the process. Be open with the teachers/staff on where you child’s strengths and opportunities are. Feel confident that RCLS is a great place to let those kindergartners blossom!"
"Kindergarten was a very big adjustment for our son and our family, and we had a difficult first two months. We’re two months into school now and our son is doing great. He’s loving school and comes home every day excited to tell us about his day. My biggest advice is that the first couple months may be difficult, but it does get better."
"The transition can be hard for some kids, but don’t worry –they will adjust and have a great year. Give your kids time to be kids but help them see the fun in learning. Be an active participant –working with the teacher. And remember to show your support and thanks to the teacher(s) for all they do."
"Communicate with the teachers. They are unbelievably dedicated [. . .] and want your children to succeed. Providing them with helpful information about life at home and challenges that your child tends to have, as well as things that your child loves and how he learns, will help the teachers. It’s also easy as a parent to be open to constructive feedback regarding your child(ren) when you know the teachers genuinely care for and love your children."
Thank you to the Krause, Kuck, Niederstadt, Sivly, and Smith families for their honest and encouraging stories about kindergarten. Kindergarten is a big step, but, as these families have seen, RCLS can help––and we promise to offer a lot of hugs and fun along the way.
Want to learn more? Register to visit at an upcoming Welcome Event in 2020. We can't wait to welcome you!