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What to Consider as your Child Transitions from Preschool to Kindergarten 

By Amy Morales Baum, First Things First

As a parent there are many decisions to make. Some decisions are easier, for example what to make our children for breakfast, while others are much more weighty. As a parent, I found that deciding which elementary school my child would attend to be one of those weighty decisions. In the state of Arizona, there are many options for education. When you are navigating this for the first time it can be overwhelming. As a former preschool director and parent who has navigated this transition for myself and others, here are few considerations I think are important to prioritize: 

What school will fit my child and our family best?

This is a question that is important to consider. What setting will your child thrive in a small or larger class setting, traditional or more hands-on learning? Is location important? Do you wish to have a school or district that continues on to upper grades? Do you desire language immersion? Are finances a concern? What is/are your goal(s) for your child at the end of their elementary education? Do you desire a faith-based education? Will this be a school that will work for all of your children or do you plan to take your children to different schools? Take a moment to consider these questions as you research schools.

Start Early! Open Enrollment and Time Frames

In Tucson, you have lots of school options including public, private, charter, homeschool and combination schools. To open enroll, meaning enroll in a school outside of your district, there are strict deadlines and timeframes to do so. Dates and enrollment typically start in November and deadlines close between December and January for many schools. Make sure to look up the dates and information for the potential schools you would like to send your child to and enroll as soon as the dates open. If you live in the district and desire for your child to attend the district school you can enroll your child online. Time frames are not quite as tight for this.

Kinder Round Ups

Kinder Round Ups are meetings at your potential next school to discuss the ins and outs of the school. You usually learn about the program and what their focus is, meet some teachers and get a chance to ask questions. It can be very helpful to attend these as meeting administrators, teachers and hearing first hand can be a good indicator of what the school will be like. These usually begin in November. Call any schools you are interested in the early Fall to get these dates on your calendar.

Funding Options

Arizona has many funding options for private schools for your child. These include the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program and tax credit programs. The programs can be used for private schools, both religious and secular. If you are desiring a private school, ask the school administrators about the options for funding. It is 100% possible to get your child’s private education fully funded through these programs with a little work and knowledge of the process.

Anticipate the Transition

This is a big transition for you and for your child. Big emotions may come for children and parents. This is normal. Allow your child and yourself to process the changes, while encouraging them and comforting them in this transition. The step from preschool to elementary school is one of the first steps from our child being a little kid to now stepping into the big kid world.

With these considerations in mind, hopefully the overwhelming nature of this decision feels a little less overwhelming. Ultimately, I hope this process allows you to find a school where you feel confident sending your child and your child is able to thrive.

Amy Morales Baum

Amy Morales Baum is currently the Regional Director of Pima North for First Things First. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Her experience includes teaching in public, private and international settings, working with the Arizona Early Intervention Program, serving children and families in the Department of Child Safety, and leading as a preschool administrator.

First Things First

First Things First is a voter funded initiative that is committed to seeing all of Arizona’s children ready to succeed in school and in life. This is done through the work of local volunteer Regional Councils who decide on programs to fund in the region that support young children and their families. In Pima County, programs include scholarships for early childhood education; literacy programs that show families how literacy starts at an early age; home visitation programs that provide voluntary in-home parent coaching from a trained parent educator a few times a month; and more. For more information go to: https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/resources/find-programs/