September 2023 may seem far away, but Cape district officials say that enrolling your child in school during Kindergarten Registration Month in November gives them a head start in their learning and development.
Director of Teaching and Learning LouAnn Hudson said Cape launched a central registration system last winter after learning that state legislation would mandate an online registration system for all school districts.
Previously, parents would register directly with the school their child would attend. The new system ensures that the process is consistent among all schools so that all families have the same experience, Hudson said.
Senate Bill 82 was signed into law in October 2021 to create a uniform public school registration process throughout Delaware beginning with the 2023-24 school year. The new system will simplify the process for families and establish a common data system that enables sharing across districts when families move.
Cape Supervisor of Early Learning Audrey Carey said the new process was spearheaded by First Spouse Tracey Quillen Carney, who has been the honorary chair of the Kindergarten Registration Campaign for six years.
In a news release announcing the launch of the statewide system, Carney said the new system is practical for everyone, and noted she had a personal reason for serving on the committee.
“Twenty-five years ago, I flunked kindergarten registration,” Carney said. “I couldn’t figure out our system here in Delaware. The new universal, online system is so much more family-friendly; it’s more equitable and it’s more likely to get kids signed up early, which helps the students, families and schools prepare more effectively for the coming year.”
By registering in November, Carey said, schools have more time to connect with families earlier, prepare staffing levels for the next school year, and provide developmental screenings and intervention, if needed.
Early registration will help ease the transition into kindergarten, she said, as families will be able to take part in online workshops and school tours.
“It’s a great way to make students feel welcome,” she said.
A free screening opportunity is available to determine if children are meeting developmental milestones in communication, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and social areas, Carey said. The screening is open to all district families with children ages birth to 5. Learn more at capehenlopenschools.com.
During enrollment, children will receive kindergarten readiness information packets with strategies parents can use to help their children get ready for school, a children’s book, health and insurance information, and other resources.
Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 8, Delaware Readiness Teams will also offer a virtual kindergarten academy that focuses on a different learning area each month. Register at delawarereadinessteam.com.
Cape is also working toward obtaining childcare licensing for the Little Vikings Early Learning Center staff and facility to meet new state legislation.
Little Vikings provides early intervention to 3- and 4-year-old children living in the Cape district who qualify for special education services. Children and grandchildren of district employees also attend Little Vikings to support special needs students as typical peers.
Teachers will need additional certifications, physicals, enhanced fingerprinting and certification in pediatric first aid and CPR, Carey said. They will take a health and safety course and be trained in medication administration, and perform a safety check on each child twice a day.
“The staff here is up for the challenge,” Carey said. “They’re excited and so dedicated to providing a high-quality, early childhood learning program.”
Children must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2023, to enroll in kindergarten for the 2023-24 school year. Access DOE registration information at bit.ly/3fTFUrM and Cape district registration information at bit.ly/3MxqMwv.