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March 13, 2013

BY TIFFANY HOLLAND / Danville Register & Bee

Items needed
Parents wishing to register children for kindergarten need to bring:

  • A valid Virginia driver's license or other state issued photo ID
  • The child's official birth certificate. It takes 6-8 weeks to order one from www.virginiabirthcertificate.com or 804-662-6200.
  • Proof of residency (a lease, phone bill and utility bill).
  • Current immunization records (shots must be up-to-date).

Early kindergarten registration begins 9 a.m. Friday at most of the Dan River Region's schools.

Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania, a non-profit organization geared toward early childhood education, is also hosting two separate events to get local students prepared for kindergarten. From 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at George Washington High School's gymnasium there will be a "Start Strong" event featuring developmental screenings, vision screenings as well as kindergarten registration for Danville students.

Children are welcome to the event and there will be a bounce house, storytelling, crafts and some snacks.

There will be another Start Strong event from 5 to 7 p.m. March 25 at Chatham High School's cafeteria for Pittsylvania County students. Representatives from schools and community organizations will be available to answer questions about programs and services for students entering school. Superintendent James McDaniel will also be there.

In Danville, all elementary schools will be registering students Friday, including the three closing elementary schools. For information on where incoming children are zoned, the information is available on the school division's website at http://web.dps.k12.va.us/.

Children who register Friday in Danville or Pittsylvania County will receive a bag of school readiness materials and a healthy snack from Smart Beginnings.

Smart Beginnings is one of 29 school readiness coalitions in Virginia and is trying to better prepare local students before they enter kindergarten. One way to check for school readiness is through the PALS-K test scores which determines pre-literacy rates. Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania began almost three years ago when PALS-K testing showed nearly 30 percent of children entering kindergarten were not ready. However, they number has since dropped by 10 percent.

"More children entered kindergarten last fall ready to read," said Ann Vandervliet Stratton in an email. "We believe our early childhood development system building and professional development strategies are working."

Early kindergarten registration is one of the ways the organization reaches parents since there is a lot parents can do between March and August to prepare children for beginning school.

"When children register early for school, it also helps school administrators to plan for the year and to be prepared for the individual needs of your child," said Stratton in a news release. "And, if the family has enough time to start talking about and preparing a child for a smooth transition to ‘big school' it is less stressful."

Holland reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

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