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Preparing for preschool

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AIKEN - Future pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children had their first taste of school this week with class registration in Aiken County.

Three-year-old Jacob Hada (center) hangs upside down in the arms of Angela Wilson as his mother, Jessica Hada (left) and grandmother Olivia Beam pick up paperwork to register him for pre-kindergarten at North Augusta Elementary.  Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Three-year-old Jacob Hada (center) hangs upside down in the arms of Angela Wilson as his mother, Jessica Hada (left) and grandmother Olivia Beam pick up paperwork to register him for pre-kindergarten at North Augusta Elementary.

The two-day registration Wednesday and Thursday gave several parents the opportunity to walk their children through the school halls and get them acquainted with the setting before the fall.

Isyss Bush, 4, could hardly pay attention to her mother as she saw a class walking in a single-file line toward a classroom.

"She just wants to join her sister in class," mother Patricia Williams said. "She's ready to be in school."

Ms. Williams said Isyss hasn't quit smiling since she walked in the school. When Ms. Williams registered Isyss' older sister two years ago for school, she said, the process was harder.

"Just trying to get all the paperwork together was a little bit confusing," she said. "But this time it wasn't too bad. We just walked in, signed some paperwork, and we're done. I knew what I needed."

This year schools have a little bit of breathing room with kindergarten class sizes. Last year an unexpected influx of pupils joined the school system and the schools scrambled to add new teachers and portable units to accommodate the approximately 200 extra pupils.

This year administrators are expecting the numbers to return to normal, which is about 1,600 kindergarten pupils.

"It was hard to tell who was coming into our 5K programs last year because a lot of people aren't in the 4-year-old program," said Michele Conner, elementary education director. "I've heard this year that things won't be so overwhelming."

Ms. Conner said that although registration provides a time for parents to initially acquaint their children with the school, the schools still welcome visits before the first day. She said parents should contact schools for the best time to visit.

"This is just the kickoff, and we try to get as many registered because it gives principals an advantage for scheduling classes," she said.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.

KINDERGARTEN AND PRE-K REQUIREMENTS

Aiken County parents may register their children until the first day of school, provided they meet the following requirements:


- Children must be 4 years old before Sept. 1, 2007, to qualify for 4K programs in Georgia and South Carolina.


- Children considered at risk of not being ready for kindergarten by age 5 are accepted for 4-year-old kindergarten programs in Aiken and Edgefield County. Children must be tested to enter programs.


- Children must be 5 years old before Sept. 1, 2007, to enter kindergarten programs in Georgia and South Carolina.


- Documents needed for registration: birth certificate for proof of age, proof of residence, immunization records and child's Social Security card.



BY THE NUMBERS


Aiken County kinder-garten class enrollment


2006.........1,885


2005.........1,692


Average class size.........24


Limit.........30


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