The Pocahontas County Schools Early Childhood Fair will be Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pocahontas County High School.
Director of preschool and student services Ruth Bland said the fair is designed to assist parents with enrolling their children in preschool and fulfilling all the requirements to enter the Pocahontas County Preschool Collaborative.
“They can register their child for preschool – fill out an application,” Bland said. “Community Care of West Virginia will be present. They’ll be able to get a well child exam for their child. They will be able to get immunizations if their child needs immunizations and we’re hoping to have dental personnel there to do a dental screening for their children.”
Also attending the fair are Parents as Teacher and West Virginia HeadStart, an agency which helps parents prepare for sending their children to school for the first time.
“HeadStart does a lot of assistance with the parents with acclimating the parents also to the school system,” Bland said. “The interesting thing, in all my thirty-four years, sometimes I’ve seen more parents cry than the child on their first day of preschool or on their first day of kindergarten. It is a rough day for parents and for some kids.
“To separate from your child and make sure they’re being cared for and nurtured and loved, it’s a big step for everybody,” she continued. “HeadStart will also assist parents if they need help with the well child exam or the dental screen on immunizations.”
Bland said the fair is also a great time for parents to get assistance if they are concerned their child may have a disability. The children may be tested or have a test scheduled to see if they have an IEP – Individualized Education Plan.
“We’ll do that a little bit later because there’s a lot of things that need to get done that day, but if the child has a speech delay or a fine motor, gross motor delay or a cognitive delay or a personal social delay, we can refer for testing,” Bland said. “Children that are three-years of age, if they have that disability, then they are eligible for preschool, also.”
Parents who cannot attend the fair have until May 1 to submit their applications to Bland. There are several requirements to enroll a student, including a valid birth certificate, immunization record and a well-child exam.
Once the applications are compiled, the students will be separated into the appropriate school for where they live. Students will be assigned to either Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Marlinton Elementary School, Hillsboro Elementary School or School Day Child Care in Buckeye.
Each school can take 20 students and while the children are all offered a slot, it isn’t always in the school closest to their home.
“Everybody who is four-years-old is offered a slot, but that doesn’t mean a slot in your home school,” Bland explained. “Marlinton Elementary may be full, you may have a slot at School Days. School Days may be full, you may have a slot at Hillsboro and that’s the same thing with Green Bank.”
Bland said when the schools fill up and she has to place a student, she tries to get them in the next closest school to keep the distance gap as short as possible.
After the students are assigned a school, the parents will be notified by mid-May which gives them plenty of time to meet the teacher and get acclimated before the school year starts.
For more information on the Early Childhood Fair or preschool requirements, contact Bland at 304-799-4505.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org