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Aug 8, 2011 12:00 AM by Andy Koen

Back to School: Preschool and Kindergarten

All this week, News First 5 and KOAA.COM are helping parents to get their children ready to go back to school. This morning on News First Today, we are focusing on the youngest students: preschoolers and kindergarteners.

I spoke with Kathy Howell, the Early Childhood Coordinator for Colorado Springs School District 11 about when parents can enroll their children for preschool. She says the district serves 3 and 4 year olds who've reached at least their 3rd birthday by October 1st.

"We have programs located in most elementary school buildings and some neighborhood preschool sites," Howell said.

In all, the district operates 33 preschools in the community. There is a limited amount of funding available and Howell recommends that parents who are interested call their office to see if they qualify. That number is 719-328-3111.

However, for many students, the first day of school comes when they enter kindergarten. The separation can be stressful for students and parents alike. Terry Martinez, principal of West Elementary in Colorado Springs, has seen it plenty of times and has some advice for parents who are wanting to make a smooth transition to school.

His first and most important recommendation is to visit the school with their child during the summer.

"Most of the schools in the area are open right now and they can come see the classrooms, they may see the teachers in their classrooms working," Martinez said. "That's a biggie that way they're not overwhelmed the first day of school."

He also suggests that children play "school" at home taking turns as the teacher and the student. He also encourages parents to read books about kindergarten with their children. He recommends Mrs. Bindergarten goes to Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and the Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing.

"These things get your kid ready to know what's going to happen," Martinez said.

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