Rita Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parents reminded to make provision but not too much

Thursday is a red-letter day at Batesville Elementary School and at Pope School. It is pre-registration day for kindergarten students. Children who will turn five years old on or before September 1 are eligible to enroll for kindergarten next fall.

Both schools take this seriously and have asked us to place their announcements in our coming events section for several weeks now. They have made efforts to let parents know to bring their prospective kindergarten students to school Thursday to fill out the pertinent paperwork and enroll the children.

Parents are required to bring the child’s birth certificate, social security card, immunization record, and two proofs of residency. All this helps the school prepare for the incoming kindergarten class. If the paperwork’s done, the children can start on the first day of school next August.

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“We’ll help the parents get the child’s birth certificate,  and their immunization records from the Health Department,” a school staff member said. “We do everything we can do to help them.”

But there are parents–lots of them, apparently–who just don’t bother to get their children prepared for kindergarten.

“Every year we have parents who just put a five-year-old on the bus, with no note (and no prior registration) and send them to school on the first day,” the staff member said. “By the time the bus arrives, the child is sobbing. Sometimes they don’t even know their last name.”

On the other end of the spectrum is a parent I heard about this week.

A kindergarten teacher, concerned that some children were slacking up on their work as school winds down, threatened the kids with missed recess if they didn’t hand in all their homework at the end of the week. All week she dutifully reminded the class of their assignments and the consequences of non-compliance.

On Friday morning homework was handed in by all the children, except one.

That child came sobbing to the teacher.

“My mama is out there in the car writing the answers with her left hand,” the errant student explained.

The parent soon brought in the papers and they were delivered to the kindergarten classroom.

Determined to settle the matter, the teacher took the homework stack and quizzed the child about which answers had been filled in by a five-year-old hand and which were completed with the mom’s left hand.

The teacher began erasing the answers supplied by the parent, intending to require the student to complete the work.

Incredulously the child asked, “You mean my mama got that many wrong?”