KINGSBURG – Washington Elementary Principal Laura North says there are three things parents can do now to prepare their children for school: read, read, read.

“The biggest indicator in deciding whether or not a kid’s going to be successful is their oral language development. It comes down to how big their vocabulary is,” North said.

Kindergarten registration is starting next month and parents can start building excitement for school by attending an open house in April. Until then, reading 20 minutes a day can make a huge difference, she said.

“If parents are reading one minute each day, first graders will know 5,000 words or less. But if you read 20 minutes each day, they’ll know 20,000 words or more. If they know only 5,000, it shows as a five-year gap meaning they can be five years below grade level. They might be a seventh grader reading like a second grader. If they can’t read and follow along with the teacher and keep up with the textbook, it’s going to be difficult for them from there on out.”

North said it isn’t the home language that matters but the building of vocabulary through reading and talking about the stories.

“This does not mean just in English, but their vocabulary and their understanding of words.

The biggest thing parents can do, from birth until they come to us and then continuing, is read with their kids. That’s the biggest thing that builds vocabulary. Read and have conversations about what you read. And have other conversations with your kids continuously. That’s what’s going to build vocabulary.”

North said parents can take advantage of websites such as where nursery rhyme books, songs and letter-sound practice are available for free.

Along with reading, parents can help their children prepare for the school environment ahead of time where taking turns, following directions, asking for help and making decisions will be part of every day.

“Before asking someone do something for them, or parents jumping in, have the kids try. Whether it’s making their bed or opening up their milk cartons. Teach your kids to try.”

Children should also start learning how to attend to cleanliness and knowing how to buckle or zip clothing to attend to bathroom breaks. Also, learning how to play with other children without roughhousing and simple common courtesies such as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ would be helpful, North said.

“That’s one thing we teach them is kind hands, kind feet and kind mouth.”

North said she realizes it’s easier and faster to just tell children what chores to do, but it helps them learn to think and make decisions if they’re given choices as to what to tackle first.

“It’s easier to just say, ‘go do this and go do this.’ But if you say you need these things done, then ask ‘What should you do first?’ then they have to think and problem solve. Many of our kids don’t know what to do when they’re given a choice.”

Another skill children will need is the ability to talk with adults, aside from their parents, and ask for help if they need it.

“They’ve either never had to do that, or they’ve always been told what to do. They don’t know what to say when they need help and we love to help kids. That’s our job and we’re here for them to keep them safe and help them learn,” North said.

To get students excited about school, North said parents and incoming students can take a campus tour at 5 p.m. and then attend open house from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. Parents can walk their children through the classrooms and tour the school. Classroom placement will be announced later, however.

“They can walk through and get their kids excited. That will spark further discussion and I want them to be excited. One of my favorite things about transitional kindergarten and kindergartners is their excitement for school and learning. It’s like they’ve gotten big enough to go to Disneyland.”

Registration for 108-2019

Registration for the 2018-2019 school year is 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5-9; 4-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6; and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 at Washington Elementary’s office, 1501 Ellis St., Kingsburg.

Students must turn age five on or before Sept. 1 to be eligible for kindergarten. Students that turn age five between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 are eligible for transitional kindergarten.

New student registration must be completed online before coming to the office to register. Online registration opens on Feb. 1. Computers will be available at the office for those needing access. Go online to to access the site. Select Aeries AIR and follow the instructions to register.

On registration day, new students will need a certified birth certificate; social security card; immunization record including proof of TB skin test; completed physical exam, proof of residency, joint residency form if your child resides with another family, custody orders and guardianship documents.

Go online to to upload the following forms: a student health inventory, oral health assessment and Southwest Transportation forms if your child will ride the bus to and from school. The forms are also available in Spanish at Fill out these forms and submit them to the front office on the day you register.

If you are not a Kingsburg resident, you must complete an inter-district transfer request. Those forms are available at the front office or at the Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District office, 1310 Stroud Ave.

New students are accepted throughout the year, however priority class placement goes to students who have completed the registration process prior to Feb. 12.

For details, contact the school at 897-2955.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or