NORFOLK, Va. — Believe it or not, the next academic school year is quickly approaching and local experts are urging parents with young children to register them for Kindergarten sooner rather than later.
Dr. Jane Elyce Glasgow is the Executive Director of a program called "Minus 9 to 5," and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics with EVMS. Minus 9 to 5 is a nonprofit dedicated to helping young families connect to available resources in the region.
Glasgow, who studied early childhood education and continues to do research on the topic, said delaying registrations this year will only cause more problems as we head into the Summer season.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of children who don't get registered in time for their first day of school, which impacts so many factors," Glasgow explained. "We're hearing from our medical partners across the region that many children are behind in their well visits and physicals, which can also result in immunizations being behind."
Glasgow said she sees many families struggling to sign up for Kindergarten properly since there is so much to the process. Not only do your children have to have all the correct immunizations ready to go, but they also have to have all the proper documentation.
This is why Minus 9 to 5 is offering a helping hand. Right on their website, you will find a "Ready Set Register HR" link where you can find all the school divisions with a guide on requirements and how to apply.
"We also have a checklist that helps parents know all of the information they need to gather. It's typically birth certificate...proof of residency like an electric bill," said Glasgow. "Our purpose is to collect all the resources not usually found on one website and create a place for parents to go for help."
According to a recent University of Virginia study, Kindergarten rates across the state dropped 13% from last year. In Hampton Roads, those numbers were even bigger. Glasgow said from her perspective, she believes the pandemic may have contributed to those numbers, which is why she doesn't want to see anyone fall behind this year.
"It's important for children to be registered for a number of reasons," said Glasgow. "It's just as important for schools. They need to have children registered and in the system. They need to know who is coming and need to assign everyone to a classroom."
Minus 9 to 5 said it has seen a decline in parents of the Hispanic and Latino population reaching out for help and want families to know they have guidance on their website in Spanish for those who prefer to use the language.