Kindergarten FAQ

Starting school is an exciting time. New parents are full of questions and concerns, most of which disappear with a couple of days of experience at school. This page is intended to address many of those questions and help make your transition to school a little easier!

If you have questions that are not addressed by this FAQ, please send them via email to pta-ktour@fairmontschool.org. The tour for children entering in Fall 2017 will be December 2, 2016, at 8:45AM.

The 2017-2018 school year begins August 21, 2017.

Registration

Registration for Fall 2017 begins Monday, January 9, 2017, and continues through the start of school. You may bring your completed materials to the school during office hours: 9AM-12PM or 1PM-3PM.

NOTE: The school district will be offering online registration for the first time with the 2017-2018 school year. We will be providing more details about this process in the week before registration beings. Please send an email to pta-president@fairmontschool.org if you would like email notification of these updates.

What to Bring:

  • Proof of child's age
  • Proof of immunizations
  • Proof of residence
  • ID for the parent, guardian or caregiver registering the child.

For details on what the District accepts as proof of residence and personal identification, visit our Registration page.

Age Cut-Off

To register for the coming school year, your child must be 5 years of age on or before September 1 of the year they enter kindergarten. Those with children whose birthdays are between September 2 and December 2 may wish to contact the Early Learning Department to learn about transitional kindergarten.

Classrooms

There are currently four kindergarten classes—two AM, and two PM. Morning classes begin at 8:30AM and conclude at 11:50AM. Afternoon classes begin at 11:20AM and end at 2:40PM. During the 30 minute overlap, teachers engage the children in a variety of activities, from reading in the classrooms of older students, to joint activities with other kindergarten classes. All kindergarten classes have a 15 minute break for recess. Individual daily activity schedules vary by teacher. Each class has 24 students or fewer.

The kindergarten classrooms—Room 17 and Room 18—have a separate, fenced play area and play structure designated only for the kindergarten students.

After School Care

Day care is available through the City of El Cerrito (510-559-7000), and the Expanded Learning (ASES) program (grades 1-6), which is grant-funded. For more information, please visit our After School Care page.

Q & A

When will I learn if my child is assigned morning or afternoon kindergarten?

Classroom assignments are made the week before the start of school. Lists are provided to after care, but are not posted publicly until the day before school. Kindergarten parents are notified of their classroom assignment one to two weeks prior to the start of school, but this is subject to change each year.

Will my child be able to visit the school and meet his/her teacher before the first day of school?

Some teachers attend the kindergarten orientation the day before school starts. But teachers do special activities with children to welcome them to their class. The orientation will give children a chance to see their classroom.

Is there a standard kindergarten curriculum? If so, can I preview it?

Yes. Visit the District's Grade Level Expectations page for the current standards.

Can I volunteer in my child’s classroom?

Many teachers welcome parent participation in the classroom. From donating food, to helping with activities, to volunteering in the classroom, there are many ways to get involved. Talk to your teacher in the second week of class about how you can help. Or considering volunteering to be a PTA Room Parent. We survey families each year about volunteer opportunities and have nearly 100 recognized volunteers, with plans to grow that much more.

Is there an active PTA at Fairmont? What are some of its activities?

Our PTA provides many programs for Fairmont’s kids. Foremost is the Playworks program, which provides an instructor during the school day to structure activities on the playground. We provide music instruction to grades K-3. The PTA coordinates enrichment classes after school, which you can learn more about at fairmontschool.org/fasep. The PTA provides many activities, from movie nights, walk to school days, Earth Day activities, and a student dance, to family reading and math nights. A high percentage of families join the PTA and among them are many great people who volunteer time to support these and many more activities. For older children, we provide coordination and financial support for a science program (grades 4-6), band (4-6), and a fifth grade outdoor science overnight field trip. We are always looking for new opportunities to enhance learning for our children.

What is the dress and uniform policy?

Fairmont does not currently participate in the District’s uniform policy of khaki pants or skirt and blue or white shirt. Although some parents still want uniforms and some lower grade students wear them, participation was historically very low, with most families opting-out. Thus, children can wear what they want. Just please make sure your child dresses sensibly so that they can effectively play and learn.

What is the transfer process?

The District provides an open-enrollment period starting in February in which families can request a transfer. Notifications of transfers generally arrive via mail in May. Policies vary from year to year, so for details, please call the Transfer Office at (510) 307-4535 or visit the Transfer Office web page.

Is my child eligible for free or reduced lunch?

The School District provides meals to students with financial need. Applications for free and reduced lunch are available the first week of school. Breakfast is also available before school. Note that discounts are available for After Care for those families qualified for free and reduced lunch. Need scholarships are also available for some FASEP classes.

How will my special needs child be treated at school?

Fairmont is a full-inclusion school. Not only are our facilities accessible to students, but they receive instruction among the general student body. The culture of Fairmont very much supports these students and families and guides many of the decisions made for our school. The new Fairmont campus design plans includes, among other things, a ramp to the Multi-Purpose Room stage, elevators for the main academic building, accessible gardens, a play structure, and better movement through campus. We have several teachers who work just with special needs students, as well as speech and occupational therapists.

Do kindergarten children mix with older children during the school day or in the after care programs?

For the most part, no. Our kindergarten classrooms are separate from the main classrooms, including a separate play structure and yard. The Playworks teacher works with kindergarten kids separately from grades 1-6. Likewise, in the After Care program, kindergarteners are largely separate from older kids, using the Fairmont Clubhouse, rather than the Multi-Purpose Room, for student activities. Some upper grade children read to kindergarten kids as part of a Book Buddies organized by our teachers.

Do kindergarten students share a bathroom with older kids?

No. The kindergarten rooms have separate bathrooms that are used only by kindergarten students.

How diverse is Fairmont?

In 2013-2014, nearly 50% of Fairmont children came from homes where English is a secondary language. Over 20 languages are spoken by these families. About 30% of Fairmont students come from Spanish-speaking families. We also have large groups kids speaking Tibetan, Urdu, and Portuguese. As such, English Learners (EL) are an important sub-group. Ask about the English Learner Advisory Committees (ELAC) within the school and about how you can help the PTA communicate with these groups.

When will the new Fairmont buildings be ready?

Our school will be rebuilt, but it is current unclear when construction will begin. The school district revised its facilities master plan in 2016, and Fairmont was queued in the middle of the construction priorities, meaning that contruction will likely require another school bond and won't begin until after 2020. Construction plans were completed in Spring 2012, and if those designs remain intact, construction is estimated to take two years. For more info, visit our School Redesign page.

Are academics good at Fairmont?

We have great teachers at Fairmont and have consistently outperfomed schools with similar demographics. Teachers have training in differentiated instruction and Common Core Standards. To view detailed information from statewide tests for Fairmont, visit http://bit.ly/1l8QLwF

Does Fairmont have a GATE program?

Our Academic Program Excellence (APEX) committee works with GATE students and other talented children to ensure that all children have an engaging academic experience in school via in-class programs, after school enrichment, teacher training, advocacy, and parent resources.

Does Fairmont have any school sports programs?

Our Playworks program provides fitness and sports activities to all students during recess, and sometimes after school. Our enrichment program also offers instruction in various sports. For upper graders, one of our teachers provides a free sports class. Organized sports, however, are currently available only at the middle and high school levels within our district.

How do I prepare my child for the first day?

The transition to kindergarten is tough for many kids. We have summer play dates in July and August to help new students get to know the school and make friends early, greatly easing the transition. Please also read First Day at School.

How can I get involved?

Three easy ways are joining the PTA, signing up for eScrip and Amazon Smile, or participating in our supper clubs. (See our Fundraising page for details.) You don’t need a child at Fairmont to help. Some of Fairmont’s largest single supporters are members of the community. Those with more resources or time can donate money or volunteer. We manage well over 20 programs for during each year, plus grant writing. Anyone can contribute.

Those wanting to help in the classroom or on class study trips must get a District-approved volunteer badge. The PTA also distributes a survey at the beginning of each year to find out what  parents are interested in helping with. There are lots of ways to pitch in!

Your help is appreciated!

Helpful Links

Contact Info

Fairmont Elementary School - 724 Kearney St., El Cerrito, CA 94530 - Phone: 510.231.1448