Is your child ready for pre-k/kindergarten?

As the calendar pages flip toward September, you might be asking if your child is ready for school. Whatever age your child is when they start school, you can help them enter the classroom with confidence by being your child’s first and most important teacher. To ensure the best possible school experience, there are skills and tasks that all children should be comfortable with before entering the classroom.

1. Teach independence

The more things a child can do on their own, the more time they, and their teacher, will spend on classroom activities. Practice having your child:

  • Use the toilet by themselves.
  • Put on coats, boots and shoes with minimal assistance.
  • Make choices: red or blue crayon; blocks or dolls.

Bradley Strait, principal at The Learning Community, a pre-K through grade 2 school in the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District, recommends making incremental changes toward Independence

“Set your child up for success,” he said. “Instead of letting them pick an outfit from their whole wardrobe –and risk them picking shorts when it’s snowing outside – lay out two weather-appropriate outfits and let them choose which one to wear.”

2. Read together

Children have to learn to read before they can read to learn. Learning the alphabet is the first step.

  • Sing the alphabet song together.
  • Point to written letters as you sing.
  • Point out the letters in your child’s name.
  • Choose books about your child’s interests.
  • Visit your local library and let your child choose books to read with you.

3. Count together

Recognizing numbers and understanding their relationship to one another is a basic foundational math skill.

  • Count steps together while you walk up and down a flight of stairs.
  • Count pieces of cereal or crackers as you put them in a bowl (or as you eat them!).
  • Ask your child “how many?” when you see groups of items that number fewer than 10.
  • Practice sorting and classifying—big, small, near, far, under, above, colors— as a way to reinforce early math skills.

4. Look for social opportunities

In preschool and kindergarten, children are learning social skills such as sharing, communicating and listening. Look for opportunities for your child to practice.

  • Make playdates.
  • Go to library story times.
  • Visit local playgrounds.

5. Establish—or reinforce—routines

Help your child become accustomed to routines by establishing a set of activities to do every morning upon waking and every evening before bedtime.

  • Get dressed.
  • Brush teeth after meals.
  • Put dirty clothes in a laundry hamper.
  • Read before bed.

6. Engage your child in conversation

A three-year-old might not yet have a robust vocabulary, but they can still express their needs, wants, hopes and fears in their own way. And the more you talk with them, the more words they will learn.

  • How do you feel?
  • Why do you like this toy?
  • Why are you scared?

Why is pre-K and kindergarten important?

Children benefit from early-education programs, like prekindergarten or kindergarten, because they learn academic and social skills that lay a solid foundation for the rest of their years in school. Kids who attend early-education programs receive higher reading, math and cognition test scores into early adulthood and earn more money over the course of their lifetime compared with those who did not have the benefit of early education.

Is my child not ready for school—or is it something else?

If you have questions about what your child should be able to do at their age, speak with your child’s pediatrician, call the early intervention office in your county or contact the school for support. The sooner kids get the help they need, the sooner they’ll be able to thrive at school.

So your child will be going to school!

Whether it’s preschool or kindergarten that your child will be attending, change can be unsettling for everyone involved. Before school starts, there are a few things parents should know and can do to help ease their family into a new school routine.

Visit the school

The more time your child spends at the school they’ll attend—especially with you—the more comfortable they’ll be when they start attending school by themselves.

  • Arrange a tour at your local elementary school or early learning center.
  • Attend concerts or other public events that interest your child at the school.
  • Play on the playground.

Know the rules

It’s true: Schools have lots of rules and policies, all geared toward ensuring a safe and healthy environment for students and staff. Check out school handbooks or websites to be familiar with rules that you know will impact your family, such as:

  • Pick-up and drop-off times and locations.
  • Parking.
  • Food for classroom parties/birthdays.
  • Safety policies, such as propping doors open.
  • Visitor and volunteer rules and policies.

Attendance matters

Regular attendance builds the school-going habit and helps children develop relationships with teachers and school staff. But there are other reasons daily, on-time attendance is important.

  • Teachers schedule their time in the classroom to the minute; late arrivals can disrupt learning and distract other students.
  • Early grades lay the foundation for future learning, and regular attendance helps children develop the reading, writing and math skills they will need in the future.
  • If your child says they don’t want to go to school, talk to your child’s teacher as soon as possible—you might be able to help address a small issue before it becomes a big problem.

Teamwork works

Once you’ve made the decision to enroll your child in school, think of their teacher and school as a partner. You all have the same goal for your child: to be happy and successful.

Talk with your child about what’s happening in their world away from home and take advantage of the many ways schools share information with families.

  • Parent-teacher conferences.
  • Parent-teacher organizations or school community councils.
  • Read through papers sent home.
  • Check out teacher and/or school websites, if they have one.
  • Find out how your child’s teacher prefers to communicate: email, phone, text message app.

Remember, you’re all in this together. If there is something happening at home or school that you think is, or could, negatively affect your child, let their teacher know. They can’t help if they aren’t aware. They can work with you and your child to find solutions or accommodations to make school a positive place were your child can learn and grow.

A message about the measles

The following letter was sent to school officials and parents from Sullivan County Public Health Services on April 22.

As you may know, areas of New York State are currently experiencing a measles outbreak, including the lower Hudson Valley and parts of New York City. Measles spreads easily and can be dangerous to anyone who is not vaccinated. If you have questions about measles or the measles vaccine, do not hesitate to call the New York State Measles Hotline at 888-364-4837.

Sullivan County has had two confirmed cases of measles but the individuals are no longer contagious.

What people can do

Locally, anyone who is concerned about their risk if exposed to measles should locate their immunization records. Those born before 1957 are presumed to be immune. Prior to 1989, it was common to only receive one MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine shot). Two are recommended for full (up to 97%) immunity and protection. Most people should have had two MMRs, but there will be residents who are either immune compromised and cannot receive it, or are too young to be fully vaccinated (infants and young children, pregnant women without MMR history).

The best course of action is for the parents and adults to look into their medical histories and then speak to their health care provider. If they are unsure of their immunity, they can have what’s known as a titer test to see if they are immune and then, if low, get a booster MMR.

The Sullivan County Public Health Department strongly recommends that:

all school nurses and parents ensure that children and are up-to-date with their immunizations per the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) guidelines;

you be alert to signs and symptoms of measles and other vaccine preventable disease (VPD); and

schools should maintain current and accurate immunization records for all students. Additionally, schools should maintain a detailed list of students who are not fully protected against VPD.

Recognizing symptoms

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people (when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes). Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth; one measles infected person can give the virus to 18 others. In fact, 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus become infected. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone. And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a rash.

Common symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days

after exposure. Measles typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose (coryza), and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis.) Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may go up to more than 104° Fahrenheit. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash. Immunity takes approximately 2 weeks after vaccination for full protection if someone has low immunity or has only had one MMR and receives a second MMR.

What we’re doing

We have sent a letter to all summer camp operators through the NYS Department of Health office in Monticello and all Sullivan County youth summer recreational youth camps. We are placing posters and flyers in the lobbies of County buildings and local businesses. We are conducting outreach to various community groups and would be happy to schedule something as resources allow. I have met with and am in communication with BOCES Superintendent Robert Dufour. Should it become necessary to conduct immunization clinics or push out communications for the public to be aware of, our offices have a plan in place to ensure immediate notification of all districts or a specific school as appropriate.

The measles vaccine

The measles vaccine is a safe and effective measles vaccine that can prevent suffering and death has been available for more than 50 years. For more information click here or visit

High community vaccination rates help protect people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions.

Where to obtain vaccination

MMR vaccines are available at your local health care provider or by calling a local federally qualified health center, such as Refuah Health Center in South Fallsburg (845) 482-9394; and Hudson River Health Care in Monticello (845) 794-2010. The federally qualified health centers see uninsured or underinsured patients on a sliding fee scale and by appointment. They may require patients new to their centers to have a well visit first, before a vaccine can be given. In addition, the Greater Hudson Valley Health Care System operates four primary care centers as well in Callicoon, Livingston Manor, Monticello and Bethel.

Our monthly immunization clinic for uninsured or children receiving Medicaid is available at Sullivan County Public Health Services. The next immunization clinic is May 8 from 5-7 p.m.

We want to reassure school officials and parents that the greatest number of persons who are fully immunized will provide the broadest protection for residents and minimize any outbreak if measles exposures do occur in Sullivan County.

For more information please visit or call Sullivan County Public Health Information Line at 845-513-2268 or the New York State Department of Health Measles Information Line at (888) 364-4837.



Nancy McGraw, LCSW, MBA, MPH
Public Health Director
Sullivan County, NY


  • Top 4 Things Parents Need to Know about Measles:
  • Las 4 cosas principales que deben saber los padres sobre el sarampión:
  • FAQ about Measles:
  • New York State Department of Health Communicable Disease Reporting:
  • NYS school vaccine schedule:
  • Centers for Disease Control recommended Vaccine Schedules:
  • NYS Outbreak Control Guidelines for Vaccine Preventable Diseases:
  • Measles information:

Future nutritionists, botanists emerge at LES

In an effort to empower children to make healthy food choices, develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown, and increase physical activity, Liberty Elementary School teacher Christy Green joined forces with our friend Bee Moser from Cornell Cooperative Extension to offer an exciting extra-curricular class for all second graders.

Fun, engaging and undoubtedly educational, the class featured a perfect mix of structure and informality. Students were happy to share their personal healthy pursuits, from making an apple pie with mom using fresh apples from the yard to trying – and enjoying – a chickpea from the school’s salad bar.

The goal of the 60 minute class was to teach students about the parts of a plant by focusing on the different parts that we commonly eat – root, stem, seed, flower, fruit, and leaf. Following a brief discussion, students put their knowledge to the test in a game that called for students to match a fruit or vegetable with the part of the plant it is known as. (For example, a carrot is a root, celery is a stem, corn is a seed, broccoli is a flower, etc.)

Together, Ms. Green and Ms. Moser hosted a healthy taste test.  Students were asked to describe size, shape, color, smell and texture of the food before taking a bite. As an added charm school-esque bonus, students learned the importance of a “no thank you bite” and how to discreetly dispose of a food they don’t like using a napkin.

After planting kale seeds in an  ice cream cone (because it’s compostable), students ended the class with a little exercise.

Kindergarten registration ends May 3

Kindergarten registration will take place April 1 – May 3 in the district office (115 Buckley Street.) Please call to make an appointment (845-292-5400 ext. 2331) and bring the following:

  • birth certificate
  • immunization records
  • proof of residency
  • custody papers
  • picture identification of legal guardian registering child

Please note

Children must be five years old on or before Dec. 1 2019 to enter kindergarten.  Students who are enrolled in the elementary school’s current pre-k program do not have to be registered.

Community egg hunt and lunch on April 13

The Town of Liberty Parks & Recreation,  Liberty Public Library and Liberty Elks Lodge will host several free community and  family friendly events on Saturday, April 13:

10-11 a.m.
Coloring, games and activities at the Liberty Senior Center

11 a.m.
Egg hunt for children between the ages of 1-8  on the Liberty Elementary Softball Field

12 p.m.
Lunch, photos and goodie baskets with the Easter bunny

For more information contact Parks and Rec. at 292-7690,
the Liberty Library at 292-6070 or the Liberty Elks @ 292-3434.

Elementary students decorate ShopRite bags

Decorated grocery bags displayed on the floorNational Youth Art Month is a month of celebration for art in our schools. Youth Art Month demonstrates how Liberty schools are shaping artists.

At Liberty Elementary School, students are decorating paper grocery bags with pro-art messages and drawings as part of their month-long art celebration. The decorated bags will be delivered to ShopRite as a way to brighten and enlighten customers with the joy of student art. Those bags will be used to pack groceries on March 30 and beyond, until the bags are all used.

Liberty celebrates Harriet Forshay Day

There’s not a student or parent at Liberty Elementary School who doesn’t know Harriet Forshay. For years, twice a day, Monday through Friday, you’ll find Harriet at the school’s crosswalk with her giant stop sign and hilarious hat.

On March 27, Liberty Elementary School students, staff, administrators and school resource officers joined together to thank Harriet for her many years of service as a crossing guard, protector and motivator. In this part birthday/part “thank you” celebration, students and staff lined the halls wearing their craziest hat.  

Harriet was showered with hugs and presented with flowers, a cake and a brand new hat from the Liberty Police PBA. 

Press play on the video below for a look at the celebration:

3-8 state assessments set for spring

This spring, our students in grades 3-8 will again take assessments aligned to the state’s new learning standards. The 2019 testing will be scheduled over two consecutive days on the following dates:

  • New York State grades 3-8 English language arts (ELA) exam: April 2 and April 3
  • New York State grades 3-8 math exam: May 1 and May 2

Over the course of the past few years, the New York State Education Department has made adjustments to the tests in response to concerns from parents and educators about the state exams.

Some of those changes affect the testing experience for students. For example, there are fewer questions on the tests and students are now allowed as much time as they need to complete the tests within the regular school day.  According to state officials, more New York educators now participate in developing the tests. In addition, state lawmakers approved a bill in January that separates teacher/principal evaluations and grades 3-8 state ELA and math test scores.

Please keep in mind that no single test provides a complete picture of your child’s abilities. When combined with grades, classroom activities, and unit quizzes and tests, annual assessments can provide important information about a student’s academic growth. State assessments also provide valuable information about the performance of our school. However, it is important to note that state test results do not have any impact on student grades or promotion.

As always, we encourage our students to do their best on all learning opportunities they participate in at school. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the main office of your child’s school.

7 things families should know about the 3-8 state exams

1. Each test will take place over two days.

The ELA and math exams will each be given to students over a two-day period. Students also will be able to take as much time as they need to complete the tests, as long as they are working productively.

2. Students will respond to a variety of question types.

Students will read short passages and answer multiple choice questions on the ELA exam. They will also provide textual evidence to explain their answers, and write an essay. Students taking the math exam will answer multiple-choice questions, and show their work on more complex, multi-step problems.

3. State test results alone don’t determine promotions or placements.

The state prohibits districts from making student promotion/placement decisions solely based on state test scores.

4. Teachers will not be evaluated based on student test scores.

State lawmakers approved a bill in January that separates teacher/principal evaluations and grades 3-8 state ELA and math test scores. As part of the revised legislation, any use of state assessments for teacher or principal evaluations would be part of district collective bargaining agreements. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor and become law later this year.

5. Resources will be available after the exams.

The state will provide score reports to help parents understand how their child is doing in ELA and math. State officials will release some test questions before the school year ends to help teachers inform instruction and improve student learning. Last June, 75 percent of the questions
were released.

6. Test questions will be written by local educators.

This is the second year that test questions on the ELA and math exams will be written by New York state teachers.

7. Students in some districts will take tests on computers.

Some school districts are participating in computer-based testing this spring. In those districts some students will take exams on computers instead of using paper and pencil. SED is working with districts so that all grades 3-8 testing will be delivered on computers in the near future.

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