Severna Park Library event readies kids and parents for kindergarten

Already, they know their ABCs and their 90 degrees.

The group of more than 40 Anne Arundel County children bound for kindergarten soon demonstrated that they're prepared for schoolwork during a Severna Park Library event that offered a glimpse of a kindergarten classroom setting. The youngsters recited the alphabet and sounded off numbers and then the temperature.

The only thing they initially found challenging was raising their hands and waiting to be called upon to give answers.

But Severna Park Library's Kathy Turczyk repeatedly cautioned against "blurting out the answers." After a few tries, the children showed that they could practice patience even when the eagerness to give the correct response left them anxious and fidgety.


Turczyk launched, "Ready, Set … Kindergarten" this year to help the kids — and their parents — experience a smooth transition into kindergarten, which, for some students will be their first time in an educational environment. The event included stories, games and activities geared toward showing kids what to expect once the school year begins.

"For some kids, it's their first introduction to any type of school," Turczyk said. "A lot of kids go to preschool, so they have a little bit of an idea, but it's still more structured when they get to kindergarten.

"I knew there were some who would blurt the answers out, but they will learn they cannot do that when they get to school," said Turczyk. "They have to take their turn and raise their hands."

According to the Anne Arundel County public schools website, 5,667 students will attend kindergarten this fall. The school system begins staggered enrollment for kindergartners Aug. 29-31.


During the "Ready, Set … Kindergarten" class, many children said they were ready for school.

Joshua Hale of Severna Park, who is headed to Benfield Elementary, said he's looking forward to learning math.

Olivia Connolly of Pasadena, who will attend Sunset Elementary, said she's a bit scared about starting school but is looking forward to coloring.

Some children at the event will be going to private school. Devin Minor of Annapolis, who will be a student at St. John the Evangelist School in Severna Park, said she is looking forward to "going to the playground."

In fact, most of those who expressed anxiety during the "Ready, Set … Kindergarten" class were the parents.

"I'm probably more anxious than he is," said Tammy Hale, Joshua's mother. She said the jitters began settling in "probably when he graduated pre-K. We had a graduation, and then I realized it was real. I've been telling him that he's going to a big-kids school. He gets to ride a school bus, which is huge, because he sees it right across the street."

Jen Minor, Devin's mother, said that attending a class to help prepare a child for kindergarten can be helpful even if you've been through the kindergarten experience before.

"Each [child] is very different; you would be surprised," Minor said. "Their personalities play such a big role. Out of all my kids [Devin] is just ready to go. She wants to go now. My first one had some hesitations. My second was terrified."


Some parents have begun simulating the kindergarten experience at home. Marni Connolly, Olivia's mother, is a second-grade teacher at Jessup Elementary and said that every day her daughter engages in a pretend kindergarten, with her own workbook.

"I'm like, 'Here you go. Kindergarten is about to start. We need to start working,'" Connolly said. She added that watching kindergarten classes from a distance has given her a sense of the demands placed on kindergarten teachers who are charged with teaching students who enter with varying levels of knowledge.

"I admire teachers who teach kindergarten. I don't think I could do it because it's so diverse," Connolly said. "There are kids coming in who, like my child, their parents work with them every day. And there are other kids who don't know anything. They've never gone to preschool. They stay home. It's hard to prepare them."

For Turczyk, who has worked in the Anne Arundel library system for 25 years, it's been a while since kindergarten has come up in her household. Her daughter graduated from college last year. Yet she has crafted many programs at the library for children, and she said that kids, from toddlers to teens, grasp subject matter when they are engaged and can participate.

"These kids are very smart today. Participation is very important for preschool and kindergarten; they want to be part of something," Turczyk said. "It makes them feel good that they know an answer or that they can help in some way."