Schools and students nationwide have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among obvious indicators, kindergarten enrollment is down across the country. Rural and urban areas, and crossing sociodemographic categories, have been touched by this trend. There are potentially multiple reasons why. Why it has happened, however, is no less important than how we plan for what’s next. Future Ready Collier and its partners are aware of these concerns, and are taking steps to help.
Kindergarten Readiness in Collier County
Early learning is a foundational goal of Future Ready Collier. Meaningful, even if informal, instruction and engagement beginning at birth helps kindergarteners enter school prepared for that significant transition. Data recorded in Future Ready Collier’s 2020 annual update show that in fall 2019 only 45.7% of kindergarteners were considered ready at the start of the school year, with the Collier County Public School district recording 89.7% on-time kindergarten registration.
Enrollment and Registration
Considering the decreased kindergarten enrollment during the 2020-2021 school year, the Collier County Public School District is anticipating a substantial increase in kindergarten class enrollment for 2021-2022. To enter kindergarten in Collier County, students must have reached the age of 5 by September 1 of that year. To enter 1st grade, students must have turned 6, and are required to have successfully completed kindergarten. Much more information about the Collier County School District’s student progression plan and requirements is detailed on their website.
To make school registration easier, and as a consequence of needs driven by the pandemic, Collier County Public Schools created a fully online system for sign-up. Online school registration is available for all grades within the Collier County Public Schools. Parents should visit the website to learn about the documents and information needed. Gathering these ahead of time will make the process easier and faster. Document lists are available in English, Spanish, and Creole. Once submitted, registration status can be checked through the same website. School administrators will send electronic messages about any additional information needed to finalize registration.
Why it is Important
Kindergarten readiness is valuable for many reasons. First, students who start school academically prepared are ready to keep up with a new pace of learning. If this is a student’s first experience in a school setting, being ready to participate will help them make that shift from the home. Second, kindergarten can be a big move for students socially. If they are ready to thrive academically, they will be less stressed in getting to know their new classmates, new routines, and new expectations. Third, the foundations of early learning matter a great deal to later grades. Students who fall behind, in any respect, at younger ages may stay at a disadvantage as they progress.
Partners to Help
Future Ready Collier works closely with the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida, alongside the Collier County Public Schools, and early learning providers, including Child’s Path, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, Grace Place, Guadalupe Center, Pathways Early Learning Center of Immokalee, RCMA, and others. Partnerships with a range of community services organizations wrap students and families in out-of-school supports. The long-term goal is to help all kindergarteners start school ready for what’s to come, so they can have a successful experience through to high school and into their careers. Resources are available on the Future Ready Collier website, as well as directly through the network’s partners.
Prepared by Caroline Ridgway of C1B1 Communications