Kindergarten registration is an ever-evolving process for many schools. Administrators and teachers much strike a delicate balance between welcoming new students and their families and getting the assessment data they need to plan for classes and how to best meet the needs of the incoming kids.
When you are preparing, it can be difficult to brainstorm kindergarten registration ideas. Setting up station rotations is a great way to set up and host a successful and positive Kindergarten Registration experience for everyone.
The key to planning your kindergarten registration ideas is to remember your why. For parents and families sending their babies to kindergarten is a big deal and as teachers, we need to leave them feeling like we will love and take care of their babies while they are entrusted to us. The purpose of setting up a station rotations model is to help your staff welcome and get to know incoming students and their families. You want everyone to have a positive first impression of your school. You want families to leave registration night feeling excited about school and knowing that you will take great care of their kids while they are at school. As you begin to prepare, remember that these are 4 year-olds – NOT kindergarteners, yet. Many may have no school experience. Try not to set your expectations too high. You want all kids to leave feeling proud, excited, and successful.
What is a Station Rotation Model?
Using a station rotation model gives kids a new activity every few minutes and allows teachers and staff members to interact with incoming students, take notes, and get to know them. In this setup, parents stay with the principal and other administrative staff while the teachers take the incoming kinders to another area of the school to go through some fun stations. Parents get the information they need about the school, like bus schedules and important school information from administrators. Other staff, like the school nurse and counselor, can be available to answer any questions parents may have.
Where do I begin?
To start planning, you'll need to determine how much time you have, how many staff members you have available, and how many stations you can manage. I would suggest keeping groups of students small (6-8 kids max) to keep them manageable. Also, you don't want to keep kids from their parents for too long. A good goal would be to have kids returned to their parents within 45 minutes to an hour. You'll need to take a look at your physical space to determine what you have room for, as well.
The other big thing you'll need to plan for is how to assess your incoming students. Every school has its own assessment expectations. If the assessment screener your school requires takes more than a few minutes per student, I suggest setting up assigned times before, after, or even during the station rotations to pull students individually to assess them. If your assessment takes 4-6 minutes per student (like this one), you can run your assessments at a station in the rotation model as long as you have 3-4 adults at that station.
Station Options for Kindergarten Registration
You can choose to run any stations you think incoming kindergarteners will enjoy. Think about different experiences where you can gain insight into their abilities without formally assessing them. For example, at a read-aloud station, students will need to sit and listen to a story. This shows if they have school skills like sitting for a few minutes, keeping hands to themselves, raising their hands, etc.
You can do a craft station so students have a product to take home with them. This will give you insight into their fine motor abilities, too. Here is a list of station ideas:
- Story Time
- Building with pattern blocks or snap cubes
- Playtime (Legos or imaginative play)
- Outdoor Play
Physical Set-Up for Kindergarten Registration
You'll need to determine what space you have available. One large space (like a cafeteria or gym) to keep parents in would be ideal. Your administrators can chat with parents there. Then you'll need 4-5 separate spaces for your station rotations. You could use the library and keep groups in different areas of the library or even a few classrooms. You'll want to keep the assessment area in a quiet space of its own, but the other stations could function in different areas of the same classroom.
In the lobby, you'll want to set up a welcome center. You'll need to set up a place for families to check in and get name tags for each student to wear. The school secretary or office staff would be great to run this area because they can also help answer any parent questions. If you have welcome bags or packets of information, this is a great place to hand them out as students and families check in. You could have a bulletin board area for pictures and signs or props for students to hold up at a photo booth area.
Grouping Students for Kindergarten Registration
Given the time constraints, you can run 4-5 stations for about 10-12 minutes each. This means you can meet up to 40 kids in about an hour. Depending on the size of your incoming kindergarten class, you can assign families different shifts and run the rotations 2-4 times on a given day or evening.
For example, the first round with up to 40 families could be at 8:00, round 2 could begin at 9:30, and round 3 could begin at 11:00. In this setup, you'd run the stations 3 separate times and could fit in up to 120 students. The other option would be to set up duplicates of the same station or make your station groups larger (whichever best fits your school set up and staff).
Staffing for Kindergarten Registration
You will need staff at your welcome area to greet families with a smile. You will need administrators (or lead teacher) to greet families and chat with them while their kids are at stations. You'll need teachers to run stations and teachers to assess students. If you have extra staff, observers would be great to take notes about kids and dynamics as you run stations. Don't forget to assign someone to be your timekeeper to tell everyone when it is time to switch stations.
For stations, you will need to have at least one adult per station. If you are running an assessment station, you will need 3-4 adults at just that station to help things go more quickly. That means if you are running 5 stations and one is an assessment station (click here to read more about assessing incoming kindergarteners), you will need at least 9 teachers or other staff members (think reading team, support staff, paraprofessionals, etc.). If you are short on staff, perhaps you can reach out to your PTO or high school for volunteers. Is there a local college nearby with an education program? Those students may be eager to help as well. You can get this editable pack of assessment tools here in my store.
Ready to get started?
If you are ready to get started planning your station rotations for kindergarten registration or open house, I have a few bundles in my TPT store that can save you a lot of time! This pack is fish or ocean themed and this one is dog or pet-themed. Each pack has materials you need to set up at least 7 different stations for your incoming kinders!