‘Story time’ eases families into first school experience
Northborough – The first day of kindergarten can be a terrifying experience. You panic that maybe the other kids won't be nice, or that the bus will forget to stop at your house, or that it will be such a terrible experience that you'll vow to never do it again.
It can also be pretty scary for the kids.
Kindergarten Story Time at Marion E. Zeh Elementary School in Northborough allows not only children but also parents who may be anxious about their child's first school experience to see the school, meet the teachers and get answers to any questions they may have prior to the big day.
"We talk to them about what a typical day is like, and curriculum-wise what we cover in the classroom," kindergarten teacher Vickie Berry said. "The bus is always a big concern and we always tell them to put their child on the bus, tears or not, and it will be okay."
During story time, the children listen as the librarian reads a book while parents and teachers meet in another room. The event is designed to be as low key as possible to help decrease the anxiety that some parents are feeling.
"We try to set up a feeling that we are approachable, that they can talk to us and that we understand what they're going through," kindergarten teacher Lorraine Rubin said. "What we need for them to understand is that we're not taking their children away from them, we're looking to work with them to create a positive first school experience for their child."
The teachers will also interact with the incoming kindergarten students throughout the story time so that no one is met with complete strangers on the first day of school.
"It gives us an opportunity to get a sense of who they are and they get a sense of who we are so that when they get here in the fall, they're seeing a familiar face," Rubin said.
More than 90 percent of all incoming kindergartners attend one or both of the story time sessions at Zeh School. Rubin and Berry said aside from getting a chance to see the school and meet their teachers, it's just as important that they get to spend time with the children they'll be sharing their first year of school with.
"On the first day of school, it seems like they always know somebody already either from the neighborhood, someone they've seen at the playground or someone that they met during story time, so that gives them a higher comfort level knowing another face in the crowd," Berry said. "You can get anxiety in new situations if you don't know anyone even as an adult, and that's what many of them need to feel like they are safe."
While some children may be apprehensive at first, Berry and Rubin said it's more common that a child doesn't want to leave than doesn't want to come.
The Kindergarten Story Time program has been operating at Zeh School for three years. Berry and Rubin said it's something that they expect will continue to be held for many years to come.
"It's really worked out well and we've always had a great showing, so why not?" Rubin said.
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