Thousands of children in the province left their homes this week to embark on an adventure that will help shape their lives for at least the next decade. New clothes, new books, new people and new environments are met with mixtures of anticipation, excitement and perhaps a little angst from kindergarteners and their parents.
Molly Joy MacEachern says she’s excited. The five-year-old daughter of Alexandra Collins and Dan MacEachern has been counting down “sleeps” till her first day of school for the past month.
Although her first class at St. Mary’s Elementary didn’t start until Thursday, on Wednesday Molly enthusiastically had everything at the ready to head out the door.
“I’ve got a pencil box, colouring pencils, an eraser and glue sticks,” she listed.
Molly said her favourite thing about going to school is “learning how to read,” but she’s already getting some instruction at home.
“Some learning to read at my house — and some at school. Mommy teaches me how to read, and Daddy, too,” she added, throwing a giggle her father’s way. “My teacher’s name is Ms. Woodland.”
On Thursday morning Molly was delighted when her parents dropped her off at school and went their separate ways.
“She doesn’t feel like it’s real school unless we leave,” explained her father, attributing her sense of security to the fact she’s been attending the KinderStart program. Under the program, Molly’s been spending one hour a month at her school since January, so she’s already made friends with her classmates and her teacher.
Meanwhile, over at MacDonald Drive Elementary Thursday morning, Paul and Leigh Anne Newhook’s son Henry had just emerged from Mme. Reid’s French immersion kindergarten class after his first morning in school. Henry and his mom took advantage of the fair morning weather to walk to class with neighbourhood friends.
“He was really excited and got up early and had a nice breakfast,” Newhook said.
Henry had been attending preschool at the Y and participated in the KinderStart program as well. The youngest of four, he’s been watching his two brothers and his sister go off to school and was excited at the prospect of his first day.
“I had juice and a banana,” he said, as he got ready to make the short trek home.
Henry’s first morning at school consisted of “colouring, playing with friends,” learning some French words and routines “and painting,” he said, pointing to his colourful work of art hanging on the wall next to several others.
Henry said he looks forward to learning French and his teacher said eventually the children will converse in the second language even during school playtime.
Almost 3,000 kindergarten children are starting school in the Eastern school district this fall. Their first year will consist of half days, alternating between two weeks in the mornings to two weeks of afternoons. Schedules for morning and afternoon attendance vary, depending on the school. According to the Department of Education, kindergarten is not compulsory in the province, but children must who are six years old by Dec. 31 must start school.