Some children were terrified, while others were excited…but many were a little bit of both, or somewhere in between.
Kindergartners at most Washoe County schools began their first day Monday.
“The children are cool, interesting, and diverse,” Superintendent Traci Davis said. “Some are super happy. Some are still holding onto their mom’s leg. I think every year is special when a child enters kindergarten. Really, the road to graduation starts today.”
The school year officially started Aug. 6 but kindergartners last week underwent screenings, which consisted of meetings with their teachers.
Davis and district officials visited Hidden Valley and Donner Springs elementary schools to greet students, families, and staff.
Laura Ortega, whose son Matthew started kindergarten at Hidden Valley, said he mentioned wanting to see his older brother at school and play with him. However, she said that wouldn’t be the case because they’re in different grades.
“He was confused and a little scared at first because he saw lots of people,” said Ortega, noting Matthew previously attended a half-day pre-k program. “But he was excited as well. It’s hard. It’s the first time he’s going to school full time.”
Hidden Valley principal Robin Olson said the two biggest challenges on the first day of kindergarten are the parents and getting the children through the lunch line.
“We have to have the parents be tough because if they’re sad, their children will become sad,” Olson said. “When I look at my first graders, it’s hard to believe they were at this point a year ago.”
Donner Springs kindergarten teacher Laura Hill said she provided a variety of play centers for the children when they first entered her classroom, which helped settle those who were worried.
“Everybody is pretty calm now,” Hill, who’s in her 13th year teaching kindergarten, said about 20 minutes after the bell rang. “To let them start by playing and finding something they enjoy especially calms the criers and those who are upset.”
Since not all children previously attended daycare, preschool, or pre-kindergarten, Hill and Olson said a lot of the first day involves learning how to get in line and sit in a circle, and showing them where the restrooms are.
About 4,700 kindergartners were enrolled countywide as of Monday, which is up from 4,557 who were registered on the first day of kindergarten a year ago.
Watch below: Students wave goodbye to their parents as they enter their classroom on the first day of kindergarten at Hidden Valley Elementary School on Aug. 13, 2018.