By Superintendent Addison Davis
When a learner enters kindergarten, it can be an incredibly exciting time filled with new opportunities and friendships. However, for students who have yet to be exposed to a traditional classroom environment, kindergarten can be a difficult transition with barriers that may stand in the way of a successful academic experience. We must work together as a community to better prepare our youngest learners for this important milestone that can have long-lasting impacts on their lives.
A learner’s initial entry into the classroom sets the stage for their entire educational career. In fact, a student who enters kindergarten on time and prepared for academic success is more likely to master literacy skills by age 11, and even more likely to graduate high school. Unfortunately, only 56 percent of students entering the classroom for the first time in the state of Florida are kindergarten ready.
It is for this reason that Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) will initiate a Countdown to Kindergarten initiative in early 2022 to communicate crucial information to families with young learners who will be joining our HCPS family next fall. This proactive approach will include several events throughout the district to acclimate families to their new schools, procedures, and expectations. During the third week of February, schools across the district will be holding Ready for Kindergarten events to help families with the registration process and introduce students to their school’s leadership.
The Countdown to Kindergarten can begin now in every household. If you have a learner who will be joining us for kindergarten in Fall of 2022, the time to build their cognitive skills is now. Read to your child every night to develop their love for literacy while sparking curiosity. Provide multiple opportunities to collaborate with other children their age to grow emotional and social skills that will be pivotal to their success. Start a routine to create healthy sleeping and eating habits, which will have untold benefits once they enter the classroom.
I encourage all families with students entering kindergarten next year to visit hillsboroughschools.org/kindergarten. This webpage has a number of resources for families, from finding your assigned school to learning more about our innovative elementary choice and magnet programs. Tell your friends or family members with new learners to utilize our resources and begin their own Countdown to Kindergarten. Together, we can work to break down barriers that create limitations for our newest learners, strengthening the fabric of our district and entire community.