The School Liaison Program and Exceptional Family Member Program hosted the annual Kindergarten Readiness Fair, which was open to all families, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii Mokapu Mall courtyard, Feb. 5, 2014 from 4:30 to 5 p.m.
Amy Solomon, the school liaison for the School Liaison Program, said the Hawaii State Department of Education recently changed the kindergarten entry age for the upcoming school year. The new cut-off date for kindergarten enrollment is July 31, and children must be 5 years old by that date to enroll. Children who turn 5 after that date aren’t eligible to enroll in public schools. Most private schools have cut-off dates between September and December.
“The fair focused on this change, and what options parents have both on and off base if they missed the cut-off date,” Solomon said.
In addition to the age change, Solomon said there is no longer a junior kindergarten program.
Amy Laboy, the EFMP manager, said the fair is important because many families aren’t aware of their options.
“There are so many choices for parents and it’s good for them to come out and see what’s available,” Laboy said. “There are many free options and many programs that are ready to assist.”
More than 20 public and private schools and organizations, like Aikahi Elementary School and Military OneSource, were invited to the fair to inform parents about enrolling their children in kindergarten and developing kindergarten readiness skills.
Trainers from base child development centers hosted activities for the children, like making homemade modeling clay and demonstrations for parents that highlighted ways to prepare children for kindergarten.
“The focus is providing hands-on ways parents can use at home for their children to continue their development,” Solomon said. “Parents who are involved in their children’s education is a true indicator of their success.”
The Hawaii State Department of Education’s research shows that the brain develops most rapidly in the first years of life, children who participate in early learning programs can benefit and be better prepared for kindergarten.
“There are group child care centers and family child care resources available throughout the state,” Solomon said.
Interested parents can find more information on the changes or resources and referral services at http://earlylearning.hawaii.gov or by calling 586-0796.
“I feel the fair is helpful for families here since the changes are Hawaii specific,” Solomon said. “The fair is also an opportunity for families to learn their kindergarten readiness options, and those options help to ensure their children are prepared.”