As another busy day drew to a close, with my belongings slung over my shoulder, I made my way through the front doors of the school as the evening sunlight immediately warmed my face. For a brief moment, I closed my eyes and drew in a deep, cleansing breath. Suddenly, a neighbour’s car slowly approached their driveway with their windows down and sunroof open; blaring from their sound system was, Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and I could not help but think, “How perfect.”
We had just finished our Kindergarten Open House and welcomed incoming students and their families. For the past two years, COVID restrictions had forced us to shift these invitations to a virtual format, which although provided some information could never compare to an actual visit to the school. For many of our families, this was their first time in the school, and they were wide-eyed and so enthusiastic as they made their way to the Family Center/Childcare table, visited our Speech and Language Pathologist, and met members of our School Council.
This year’s Kindergarten team decided to structure the Open House tour based on the Four Frames of the Kindergarten Communication of Learning Document. Each stop along the tour represented examples of Belonging and Contributing, Self-Regulation and Well-Being, Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviours, and Problem Solving and Innovating.
Incoming students and their family members had the opportunity to identify their name and then colour it for their book bag for next year, as they wandered through the LLC. In the classrooms, families had the opportunity to see early literacy and numeracy activities and complete them with their children. Students were encouraged to print their name on one side of a wooden circle and families printed a wish for their child on the other side. The laughter and interaction were amazing to witness. In the hallway we had our “Newest Coyote” photo booth set up, so families could capture this visit. It also served as an effective way for the Kindergarten team to capture pictures and associated names as we look towards class placement meetings this week.
The other parts of the tour included a snack and an opportunity to create a coyote headband. As the weather beautifully cooperated families were able to visit the Forest of Learning and see how programming in that location supports Problem Solving and Innovating. I had to giggle when I overhead an older sibling share, “Now Charlotte, when you hear Mrs. M. blow the whistle, you need to get to the front of the forest as fast as you can and line up along this fence.” Oh, the joys of having older siblings who have already experienced the fantastic Kindergarten program share their favourite memories.
This year, the sibling piece will be integral and one that we will explore deeply to ensure the best possible transition for our students, as the only ones who will be welcomed to our program will be younger siblings of current students. With the Board of Trustee motion last fall, which addressed our over significant crowding by transporting any new families to Knollwood, we have the pleasure of knowing all our incoming K1’s families. That was very evident tonight as older siblings proudly took the lead on the tour and, with great smiles, introduced their younger siblings to our team members. As our school is going into its sixth year, for many of these wee ones, we recall when they were first born. We watched them graduate from parents’ arms, to strollers, to toddling on the tarmac and now ready to take on their first year of school.
Following our raffle draws, we invited our newest Coyotes to join our Kindergarten team for a group photo. We ended the Open House with a cheer for the class of 2022-2023. I hope that tonight’s picture will somehow be safely stored and then shared in June 2031, as this group of amazing children enter the gym once again, but this time as Grade 8 graduates.
Oh, to be able to get inside the minds of these newest Coyotes. They have heard stories from their siblings, their parents are now pros, as they have been through this routine at least once before and so many of them seem already to start school. We even had some tears as children did not want to leave last night.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true
May we create a school experience for them where the skies are blue (sometimes that shade of blue may vary) and we foster such confidence that they dare to dream big dreams!
What is most important as we welcome our newest students?
Come write with me….