Journey through Salem Schools begins with kindergarten

SALEM – Kindergarten registration kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Buckeye Elementary School in Salem, the site where all registrants will learn the ropes of kindergarten life this August.

The two-week summer session known as Kinder Camp teaches the brand new students what they will need to know before the first day of school, such as bus safety, playground safety, where lunch is eaten and how to find the bathroom.

They will also meet the teachers and other staff members they will come into contact with on their journey through kindergarten and the start of their primary education.

First, though, they need to be registered.

Buckeye Elementary Principal John Lundin urged anyone who knows a family with a child who will be kindergarten age to remind them about the upcoming registration opportunities from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and 4 to 6 p.m. April 16 and 18 at the school on Buckeye Avenue.

Any child who turns 5 years old before Sept. 30 is eligible to attend kindergarten. Kindergarten teacher Mindy Hiltbrand said parents or guardians need to bring the following items with them when they register: a valid birth certificate, shot records (nurses will be on hand to help determine what shots are needed), social security card, proof of residency (such as a utility bill) and custody papers if applicable.

She said it’s important that children are registered now since that’s how they notify them about Kinder Camp from Aug. 5 through 16. The camp meets for three hours in the mornings and children receive a bagged lunch each day. They’ll also have a field trip to McDonald’s for ice cream as part of their lesson on bus safety.

Each of the eight kindergarten teachers prepare lessons aimed at giving the students a taste of what kindergarten will be like, with lessons in art, music, letters, math, reading stories, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, speech and language and physical education. The teachers also receive help from other personnel, such as speech and language and occupational therapy specialists.

Kinder Camp acclimates students to the school environment, resulting in less drama on the first day of school.

“It really makes a big difference because it takes the scariness out of it,” Hiltbrand said.

She estimated at least half of kindergarten students have not been to preschool and “there was a big need to help ease the transition from home setting to school setting.”

Parents also receive an information packet on how to help prepare their child and what they need to know about the school.

In her 34 years in education, she said Kinder Camp is one of the best programs they’ve ever done.

“You can really see significant changes and a big benefit. They’re ready to come when the first day of school comes,” she said.

The numbers for kindergarten have grown in recent years in Salem where students go all day, with an enrollment of 177 students currently. She estimated about 120 students attended Kinder Camp last year, noting that not all the students go all 10 days, but they get an idea of what to expect when they come to school. This will be the fifth year.

“We do our best to meet the needs of the students and their families,” Lundin said.

They have help available for students with special needs or students with English as a second language.

For anyone who can’t come to register on the dates available, they can stop in or call the school at 330-332-8917. Forms are available in Spanish if needed. Anyone with questions about kindergarten registration can call the school or email Hiltbrand at