Students entering Kindergarten are embarking on a journey of discovery, socialization and education, and the lessons learned become the foundation for a lifetime of accomplishments.
Brent Smith, Systems Principal of Early Learning, explains how the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) makes the transition a little easier. “Starting Kindergarten is an exciting and nervous time for children and parents alike. At the OCDSB, we strive to make this process as easy as possible.”
So, how should you get started? Here’s what you need to know.
You can register your child anytime
The first step to registering your child for Kindergarten is to find your school based on your home address and type of program. Next, complete and submit a registration form in person at the school, or online at www.ocdsb.ca. Finally, contact the school to provide the necessary documentation and complete the registration process.
Get familiar with your child’s new school
Elementary schools across the OCDSB host Kindergarten information nights which, Smith explains, introduce parents to the school community and Kindergarten program while providing information on how they help children transition to school. “It’s a great opportunity for parents to ask questions, meet school staff, walk through the school and see the classrooms and resources available.” Open House details are found on school websites and building signs.
Get comfortable knowing who will be caring for your child
Kindergarten class is led by a teacher and an Early Childhood Educator (ECE). You and your child will have the opportunity for a ‘meet and greet’ before regular classes begin. Here, you can share important information including preschool and family history, allergies and developmental milestones, and your child can become familiar with new surroundings and new faces. The first days of Kindergarten are staggered, allowing students to enter the program in smaller groups over a few days, to experience a comfortable transition from home to school.
Play-based, bilingual learning
The OCDSB full-day Kindergarten program offers students a unique 50/50 English-French learning experience. Smith explains that with this format, “students are comfortably exposed to Canada’s official languages, no matter what their background may be.” Students learn through educator and child-initiated activities, planned and purposeful play, as well as literacy and numeracy instruction in groups or at learning centres. “This is a team effort, with both a teacher and Early Childhood Educator available to support children through a fun, safe and interactive approach designed to spark curiosity and creativity.”
Making the school day easier for families
For families in need of before and after school childcare, the OCDSB offers supervised care for Kindergarten to Grade 6 students. “Registered Early Child Educators and Early Learning Assistants lead this program and offer students a seamless day of learning at one location,” says Smith, adding “structured and non-structured activities offer children opportunities to learn through play.” The Extended Day Program operates from 7 a.m. to the start of the school day and from the end of the school day until 6 p.m. Parents can register for morning care, afternoon care, or both.
All OCDSB schools with Kindergarten offer Extended Day Programs, subject to sufficient enrollment.
While busing does not apply for early and late Extend Day Program hours, school bus transportation is available for the regular school day to kindergarten students living more than 0.8 km from their school. Learn more about bus transportation at the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority.
Inclusive education for all families
The OCDSB supports families in an inviting, respectful and inclusive manner, so everyone can start their education journey right. Becoming acquainted with the school system can be challenging for new Canadians or those who may not speak English as a first language. The Family Reception Centre helps parents and students learn about the school system and register for Kindergarten. “Everyone is welcome at the OCDSB. We encourage all parents to visit their local school and learn more about the exciting opportunities available with our Kindergarten programs.”
For more information visit the Ottawa Carleton District School Board website at www.ocdsb.ca.