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    Family Connection Conferences for Kindergarten Families
    Posted on 06/18/2018

    Family Connections Conferences Held During First Three Days of the School Year for Kindergarten Families

    Ensuring our schools are inclusive and welcoming is a priority of staff and the School Board. Kindergarten in Seattle Public Schools is an important transition point in the lives of a family and student. We offer several options for kindergarten students to engage with their teacher and school leading up to the first day of class.

    One state requirement, necessary for providing free all-day kindergarten, is the implementation of Family Connection, a parent-teacher conference held during the first three days of the school year.

    Learning begins with building relationships. Family Connection visits are an opportunity for kindergarten teachers to find out about our youngest learners’ strengths, abilities and needs during individual family conferences. The conference also can be celebrated as a special moment in the kindergarten transition process and an important step in a student’s educational journey. The Washington state legislature approved use of up to three full school days to support Family Connection (SSHB 1723) in 2016.

    Family Connection scheduling is negotiated with Seattle Education Association (SEA) and is included in the 2015-18 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Per the CBA, to support a strong transition to school, each elementary and K-8 school begins with family-teacher conferences, held during the three-day week following Labor Day. The following Monday, Sept. 10, all kindergarten students start school.

    Seattle Public Schools serves more than 53,000 students, representing 150 countries of origin and many religions and practices. In our diverse community, observance of religious holidays occasionally overlaps with important school year dates. In 2018, Sept. 10 also marks Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

    The district recognizes that conflicts between religious holidays and school-related activities may result in challenging decisions for families. While it may not be feasible, because of negotiated agreements and the complexity of our systems, to accommodate the varied religious observances of our families in the school calendar, staff respectfully acknowledge them and work to make accommodations. If your kindergarten student will be absent on Sept. 10 or 11, please let your child’s teacher know during the Family Connection conference. Schools are already aware of the conflict and will work with individual families to make sure your child’s first day is great. Observance of a religious and/or cultural holiday meets the criteria of excused absences. Read more about absences and attendance at Seattle Public Schools.

    Our goal is to ensure the transition to kindergarten is as smooth as possible. Below is information on opportunities available to families and students leading up to Sept. 10. We are eager to welcome all of our students for the 2018-19 school year and will be ready to celebrate them whether they arrive on Sept. 5 (official first day of school for first through 12th graders), Sept. 10 or later in the week (for kindergartners).

    Kindergarten Family Connection Visits

    • Your school will contact you in August to schedule a Family Connection visit on Sept. 5, 6 or 7 with your child’s teacher. Please let them know if they can arrange for an interpreter to ensure good communication.
    • You can also contact your child’s school in August to request a specific date and time.
    • This 30-40-minute conference will give your kindergarten teacher a chance to learn about your child and family. This is your time to share your goals and to tell us about your child’s strengths, abilities and needs.

    Kindergarten Jump Start

    • Most of our elementary and K-8 schools offer Jump Start. The purpose is to help kindergartners make a smooth transition to school.
    • Jump Start is free. It is the week of Aug. 20-24. Please bring your child to school by 9 a.m. and return for pick up at 12 p.m.
    • Adult family members will have a chance to meet with the school principal one morning during Jump Start.
    • See the list of schools offering Jump Start. To register, visit our Early Learning webpage.

    Kindergarten Transition

    • One of the surest ways to ease children’s transition to school is to give them opportunities to meet and make friends with fellow students. Many schools host “Popsicles in the Park” or kindergarten playdates throughout the summer.
    • Check your school website’s or contact the school PTA to find out dates and locations of meetups.
    • Visit your school playground during the summer.
    • Share your own stories or borrow picture books from the library about starting school. The Seattle Public Library has books, CDs and DVDs in many languages. If your child doesn’t already have a library card, this is a great time to get one – just ask for help from your local branch library staff.