Get ready for kindergarten and prekindergarten in Metro Schools
The time has come for Nashville families to prepare for a major milestone: the first day of school. This April, Nashville families can enroll their young children in school during the upcoming kindergarten enrollment and prekindergarten application periods. At the same time, Nashville itself is facing a major milestone as city leaders prepare to bring unprecedented collaboration and attention to early childhood education. Thanks to a generous federal grant, Metro Schools, the Mayor’s Office and many community partners are working to expand and improve pre-K across the board. “This is always such an exciting time for families, as they start preparing to send their little ones off to school for the first time,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “It is an exciting time for us, as well, because we are getting closer to a point where we can ensure every single child in Nashville is prepared for kindergarten, no matter where they come from. With more prekindergarten seats and the partnerships we have between the Mayor’s Office, United Way, Alignment Nashville and more, we are building a world-class early childhood education system in Nashville.”
Kindergarten Enrollment Week is April 6-10.
Families can visit any of the district’s 12 Enrollment Centers to fill out all required forms to enroll in kindergarten. It just takes three easy steps:
- Choose a school. Families can find their zoned schools through the ZoneFinder on MNPS.org or by calling Customer Service at (615) 259-INFO (4636). If they wish to apply for a school outside their zone, they can call Customer Service for details.
- Gather all required documents.
- A birth certificate or record of birth To be eligible, children must turn five years old on or before August 15, 2015.
- Up-to-date Tennessee Immunization Certificate This is available from the child’s doctor or at any Metro Public Health Clinic.
- Proof of a physical The physical must have been performed after August 5, 2014
- Proof of Davidson County residency This could be a utility bill, telephone, lease or homeowner policy
- Parent / Guardian photo ID
- Visit one of 12 Enrollment Centers located conveniently across Nashville.
All students entering kindergarten for the first time must enroll, regardless of enrollment in prekindergarten or having completed the Optional Schools Application last fall. Families who speak a language other than English at home must enroll at the Office of English Learners, 615 Fessey Park Road, 37204.
Prekindergarten Application Week is April 20-24.
Nashville families have more pre-K opportunities to choose from then ever before thanks to the continued expansion of pre-K seats in Nashville. There are diverse offerings for every family in every neighborhood. To make the many different offerings easier to navigate, metro Schools has developed the Pre-K Program Guide (also available en español) to help parents find just the right fit for their families. The Pre-K Program Guide is available at elementary schools and several other locations throughout the community.
Pre-K applications will also be available at the 12 Enrollment Centers, as well as Ross Early Center, Bordeaux Early Learning Center and the Customer Service Center at Central Office. Pre-K applicants need to come prepared with a birth certificate or record of birth, a parent/guardian photo ID and proof of residency. The deadline for submitting pre-K applications is April 24 at 3:30 p.m. Applications received before the deadline will be included in the pre-K selection process for enrollment. Applications received after the deadline will be added to the ends of applicable waitlists.
Whether it is kindergarten or prekindergarten, all families preparing to enter school for the first time will have many questions. What should they expect at their new school? What kinds of things will children do on a daily basis? Are families ready for this big step?
That is why Metro Schools educators developed Welcome to Kindergarten: A Guide for Parents, available at all Metro elementary schools and Enrollment Centers. This booklet explains it all:
- What to expect from teachers
- What to expect during a typical school day
- What to know if a child is riding the bus
- Everything parents and children need to do between now and the first day of school
- Answers to the biggest parent questions, like “What clothes can my child wear to school?”
- Suggested books for families to read together
The district has also partnered with Alignment Nashville and many other partners to develop iTrails.org, a pre-K and kindergarten readiness website. iTrails.org is a free resource for parents to replicate pre-K lessons at home or in private daycare. It takes parents step-by-step through the pre-K standards and what they can do to support them, including a readiness calendar with almost daily activities for parents and children to do together. iTrails.org also has a readiness assessment and transition guide so parents can determine if their children are ready to take that step.
“These resources are invaluable to parents because they are free, easy to use and will help them understand what it means to be really ready for kindergarten,” said Phyllis Phillips, Metro Schools’ director of early learning and chair of the Alignment Nashville Pre-K Committee. “Parents are our greatest partners in this, because there is so much they can do to help their children succeed in kindergarten. The foundation for learning really starts at home, and the resources we have put together give families what they need to build it.”
There is a renewed citywide focus on early childhood learning in Nashville, thanks to the recent expansion of pre-K classrooms in Metro Schools and the awarding of a new federal grant to further improve and expand offerings across the city. One year ago, Mayor Karl Dean and the Metro Council funded the first step in Dr. Jesse Register’s vision of pre-K for every family who wants and needs it. That first step opened three Early Learning Centers at Bordeaux, Ross and Casa Azafran.
The next step in pre-K expansion comes thanks to $8.3 million federal pre-K grant – with the possibility for another $25 million in the following three years. That money will open 400 more pre-K seats in Nashville and fund significant efforts to align and improve early childhood education citywide, regardless of who provides it.
At the same time, Metro Schools and its partners will form the Early Childhood Education Commission made up of experts from United Way, the Nashville Association for the Education of Young Children, Head Start and private childcare providers. Their work will be extensive, with a mission to strategically plan for early childhood services across Nashville. They will review all learning services from birth to five years and make annual recommendations for improvement to policy leaders. The Commission has its origins in Mayor Karl Dean’s Early Childhood Education Task Force.
“This grant and the tremendous community support we have are going to change so many lives,” said Dr. Register. “Nashville is very fortunate to have city leaders and community non-profits who are willing to come together and do the work to make better lives for our children. By the time this generation of young children reaches kindergarten, they will be ready. That could make all the difference in their education.”