April 9, 2021

RSU 14 registering children for kindergarten

Any Windham or Raymond child who will be 5 years
old by Oct. 15 is now eligible to register for kindergarten
classes at either Raymond Elementary School or
Windham Primary School. COURTESY PHOTO  
By Briana Bizier

The current school year ends in June, but parents and teachers of next year’s incoming class are already starting to plan for September. For the 4- and 5-year-olds of Windham and Raymond, it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten.

Any Windham or Raymond child who will be 5 years old by Oct. 15 is now eligible to register for kindergarten classes at either Raymond Elementary School or Windham Primary School.

“The best thing for parents to do is to go to the RSU14.org website. There’s a registration link that will walk you through the process,” said Beth Peavey, Raymond Elementary School principal.

To register, parents will need to provide their child’s birth certificate, proof of residency, and immunization records as well as their contact information.

In the past, kindergarten-bound students traveled to their future elementary schools for an in-person screening following their registration. This year, however, things are different.

“When our students are all registered, parents will receive a phone call with questions,” Peavey said. “We’ll do an over-the-phone screening with parents in late April or May, and then a full in-person screening would be by invitation only.”

Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Windham Primary School principal, said that the remote kindergarten screening process was even more complicated this past year during the school shutdown resulting from the pandemic. Despite school closures, Rhoads said that he was able to get a dedicated team of staff members together to make phone calls to the families of future kindergarteners over the course of several days.

“We were very successful with that last year, which says a lot about the strength of our team,” Rhoads said. “But I think it’s going to be a bit easier this year than it was last year.”

Both Raymond and Windham schools are expecting a normal number of incoming kindergarteners this fall. A typical incoming class for Raymond is about 45 students, while Windham Primary School usually has between 180 and 220 registered incoming kindergarten students.

“We’re right on track for our typical class size,” said Rhoads.

Because of the pandemic, all RSU 14 schools are following a hybrid schedule this year. Windham and Raymond students, from pre-kindergarten to high school seniors, are attending school in person two days a week and working remotely three days a week. The school district provides iPads to kindergarteners for Zoom classes and remote work, and laptops to older students. RSU14 also offers a fully remote kindergarten option.

While it’s too early to say how the ongoing pandemic will affect RSU 14’s school schedule come September, teams at both Raymond Elementary School and Windham Primary School are preparing to welcome their new students.

“We’ll do our best to make the coming school year as normal as possible,” Rhoads said. “I’m confident our awesome team will be ready to welcome our next crop of young learners.”

Those incoming kindergarten students will have a full year of learning waiting for them.

“In kindergarten we work on letter sounds, forming words, and beginning to read,” Peavey said.

Both RES and WPS use a reading program called Jolly Phonics.

“That’s a kinesthetic program, so there’s a motion for every letter sound,” Peavey said. “It helps them to remember their letter sounds much easier. The kids are really picking it up, and we’re noticing a difference in their writing.”

Reading and writing aren’t the only skills these little scholars will acquire in their first year of school. The math program for kindergarten focuses on counting to 100 by ones, adding and subtracting within five, and also learning shapes. These lessons go beyond identifying shapes to include mathematical concepts like length, weight, and capacity.

“The math program is really focused on learning the basic skills and then their application,” Peavey said. “So students learn the basics of adding and subtracting, and then they work on things like word problems.”

Both elementary schools are also focusing on social and emotional health, beginning with the youngest learners.

“Yes, they’re going to learn the foundational academic skills, Rhoads said. “And the teachers also understand the importance of spending time getting to know each other, to give their students the skills to navigate the social and emotional side of school as well. They need to have those connections and relationships in order to do their best learning and to enjoy school. Our kindergarten learners get a really well-rounded curriculum. It addresses not only their academic needs but also their need to be a good thinker, to be a good citizen, and their social emotional needs as well.”

For both Raymond Elementary School and Windham Primary School, the primary focus of kindergarten hasn’t changed even as COVID-19 has upended almost everything else.

As Dr. Rhoads explained, the goal of kindergarten is simple: “We want them to love learning.”

If you are planning to enroll or considering enrolling your child in kindergarten, please visit 
https://wps.rsu14.org/ for kindergarten registration information. <

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