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Preparing for Kindergarten Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Preparing for Kindergarten

This fall, an estimated 13,000 children in Fairfax County will be starting their elementary school experience as they transition from home, preschool or a child care setting to kindergarten! The Office for Children partners with Fairfax County Public Schools to help families and child care programs support children’s school readiness. Join staff on May 2 at 10 a.m. for an online discussion that will address what families, child care programs and teachers can do to ensure a smooth transition to kindergarten and a successful new beginning for children and their families.

Anne-Marie Twohie : Starting kindergarten is an exciting time for children and families.  Children who turn 5 by September 30 are eligible to start kindergarten this fall.  Spring is the time to begin the school registration process and to prepare your child for this important transition.

Anonymous User : What is the first day typically like? If my child has seperation anxiety, are the parents expected to stay?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Transitioning your child to kindergarten is important.  Providing experiences that establish familiarity with the school will ease the transition.  For example, over the summer you can bring your child to the elementary school play ground and can read books about kindergarten with your child.  On the first day your child's elementary school will have a thoughful schedule planned for the day.  Check in with your elementary school to find out specific information about the first day.

Anonymous User : Can you recommend some books about kindergarten that I can read with my daughter thIs summer?

Anne-Marie Twohie : There is a wonderful variety of books available about kindergarten.  Some favorites include Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate, Count Down to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee, First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.  The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is particularly good for children who may be anxious about separating.  Fairfax County Public Library has many books availalbe -- check with your children's librarian for some additional ideas.

Anonymous User : What are my options for school age care?

Anne-Marie Twohie : There are a number of child care centers and family child care providers in Fairfax County who provide care for school age children.  Fairfax County Office for Children can provide assistance with finding child care.  You can search online for child care at or can call 703.449.8484 to speak with a child care specialist.  The county's School Age Child Care program is also available in most county elementary schools.  You can contact SACC at 703.449.8989.

Anne-Marie Twohie : My name is Anne-Marie Twohie and I'm the director of the Office for Children.  I'm joined today by my colleague from Fairfax County Public Schools Maura Burke, early childhood coordinator.  Due to technical difficulties responses will only appear under my name, but both Maura and I are responding together.  Thank you.

Anonymous User : My son turns five at the end of august. How will I know that he is ready for kindergarten?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Fairfax County Public Schools is ready for all chidlren who are kindergarten eligible. Kindergarten is the grade in elementary school in which there is the largest continuum of skills.  Kindergarten teachers are well equipped to meet each child's individual needs using a variety of best practices.  If you want to support your child at home, its important to have rich conversations, read together and provide opportunities for your child to interact with peers.

Anonymous User : What should we make sure our 4 year olds know in preschool before going to kindergarden?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Supporting children's communication and social skills will help them to be confident and successful in kindergarten. Encouraging language and vocabulary development, helping children to communicate their needs and to make friends and play together are all important.  Fostering a curiosity about learning by providing experiences in the community and asking open ended questions will help to prepare them, as will fostering number and alphabet awareness.

Anonymous User : Now that most FFC schools are full-day, how are schools addressing class size? Would they consider K vs an older grade for a mobile trailer vs a traditional classroom?

Anne-Marie Twohie : All FCPS elementary schools are full-day.  Class size varies but typically the average class size is around 28 children.  A teacher and instructional assistant are both in the classroom.  A kindergarten classroom is required to have a bathroom so it is typically housed in a traditional classroom.

Anonymous User : What resources are available in the county to help me prepare my child for kindergarten?

Anne-Marie Twohie : FCPS has a resource available to families, "Success in Kindergarten: Parent Strategies" which is available online at  This booklet provides a wonderful variety of activities to support your child as they transition to Kindergarten.  The Fairfax County Public Library has a great selection of books for child care professionals and parents about school readiness as well.

Anonymous User : Will rising kindergarten children be assessed and if so, what assessment instrument is used?

Anne-Marie Twohie : There is no required assessment for rising kindergarteners. In late October required assessments are administered -- this provides children with time to adjust to their new school setting.  These assessments are language and mathematics focused.   

Anonymous User : My daughter is in preschool now and will be starting kindergarten in Sept. She naps for 2 hours in preschool. Will there be any nap or quiet time in kindergarten?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Kindergarten provides a quiet time in the afternoon for children who may need a rest.  However, you may want to begin easing your child into a shorter rest time over the summer.  Kindergarteners are often tired at the end of their school day.  When school begins it will be helpful to have an established evening routine and to set a bedtime that allows your child to get plenty of sleep. 

Anonymous User : Will it be possible for my child to meet his teacher before the first day of school?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Please contact your elementary school for information about kindergarten orientation and back to school open houses.

Anonymous User : My son is turning 4 years old this sunday, and he has being going to pre-K since he was 2, but now he says that he doesn't want to go anymore because he gets so bored, my question is if he can go to kindergarden the upcoming year . He already knows the alfabet, color, shapes, sounds of letters, etc.

Anne-Marie Twohie : The Code of Virginia and Fairfax County Public Schools policy state that a child's fifth birthday must fall on or before September 30th of the school year for the child to be eligible to attend a Virginia public school.  There are no waivers or considerations based student skills.  If you choose to place your child in private kindergarten because he doesn't meet the public school age requirements, your son will be considered eligible for kindergarten the following year.  However, the principal has the option of promoting your son to first grade upon review of his academic record and staff assessment of performance.

K Parent : For the Kindergarten educational curriculum, are all students provided the same course material and lesson plans at the same pace, or are teachers able to provide additional content to students who seem to want it or be able to handle it? Just wondering if FCPS kindergarten teachers have this flexibility, or if this really does not begin until the G&T program starts (is that 4th grade?). Thank you.

Anne-Marie Twohie : The Commonwealth of Virginia provides the Standards of Learning for each grade level.  Kindergarten teachers address these standards throughout the course of the year.  To meet individual student needs they differentiate lessons and provide opportunities for children to develop deeper understanding of the content.  Advanced academic lessons are available at all grade levels and are a good resource for kindergarten teachers working to meet the needs of each child. Advanced academic level four center programs are available to students at grade three.

Anonymous User : Technology has been a game changer in our society; IPADS, smart phones, Nooks, online books, etc. . In my son's daycare (age 2) there is even utilization of the smart board and a technical station. How does FCPS invision integrating technology for our kindergarteners and how can we prepare them as parents?

Anne-Marie Twohie : In FCPS technology is used as an integrated tool to support children's understanding of content/curriculum.  The specific technology used varies from school to school, but smart boards, tablets and laptops are often readily available.  Parents can access an online database (Tumbleweeds) through the FCPS home page which provides access to online picture books

Anonymous User : What skills or knowledge does my child need to know in order to be successful in kindergarten?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Children enter kindergarten with a variety of skill sets and teachers are prepared to meet each child's needs.  You can help prepare your child to be successful in kindergarten by supporting his or her social skills and communication skills.  Being emotionally ready for school is an important part of school readiness.  Helping your child to identify and regulate their emotions, feel good about themselves and others, is important.  Listening skills, basic self-help skills also help children to feel confident.  Providing your child with opportunities to become familiar with the school will ensure that they feel safe and secure the first day and are ready to learn.

Anne-Marie Twohie : Thank you very much for joining us today.  We received more questions than time allowed us to answer.  Please feel free to contact your neighborhood elementary school or, or the Office for Children at 703.324.8000 if you have additional questions. Best wishes to you and your child as you transition to kindergarten!  Anne-Marie Twohie and Maura Burke