After one week of school, my kindergarten student finally has a teacher. Getting to this point has been confusing, stressful and inconvenient for our whole family, but especially for him.

Chanute Elementary School uses a process it calls “sorting.” The morning session runs from 8:30 to 11 a.m. (I’m still not sure how parents who work regular hours deal with that schedule). All the students are mixed up and sent to different teachers with different students every day for the first week of school. Some kids get sorted in the mornings, some in the afternoons, so there are many students who never meet that first week and there are others who have been together all week long.

You just never know what the day might bring. And that’s my point.

By any expert’s guidelines, it is important for 5-year-olds to have structure, stability and predictability. The confusion brought on by this sorting process diminished the kids’ excitement about starting school. They couldn’t take their backpacks. They didn’t know who their teachers were. They had no idea which friends were in their classes.

During the first two days of “sorting,” several friends from preschool were in the same class. The third and fourth days of “sorting” brought the first real upset and more confusion. “I thought we were in the same class!” “Did we get in trouble?” “Why can’t he come with me?”

With so many boys and girls attending preschool now, assigning kindergarten students to classrooms isn’t nearly as blind as it had been. If the preschools work with the elementary school and pass on information about the students, I would hope administrators and teachers could do a pretty good job of assigning children to different classrooms.

If a few adjustments need to be made – perhaps 20 or 30 kids would have to be moved to other teachers – it would be much less disruptive than confusing all of the nearly 140 students enrolled in kindergarten this year.

Students should begin their school careers with positive attitudes and as little stress as possible. I certainly hope future kindergartners in this district are allowed to do just that.

— Shanna Guiot

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