EDITOR’S NOTE: We will be following the Baker’s journey through the Champaign Unit 4 Schools kindergarten registration process. If you want general information about the Champaign kindergarten process and timelines, visit our overview for 2018 HERE.
By Amanda Baker
We have a sweet summer baby. With an early August birthday, our daughter will be among the youngest in her class all of her life. Which really was just poor timing on our part. And our second baby has a late August birthday, so we’re 0 for 2.
The idea of “redshirting” was only realized about a year ago. Redshirting is a choice that some parents make to delay kindergarten for another year for many different reasons, including simply not being ready for kindergarten. Our daughter is basically ready for high school, so kindergarten will just be a formality at this point. She’s independent, smart, curious, playful, assertive, outgoing, and ready to take on whatever comes at her.
Also, in all honesty we briefly considered private school, but it’s not right for us right now.
Cue our Unit 4 Schools of Choice journey.
As soon as January hit, I started pouring over the materials Unit 4 puts out about Schools of Choice. There are registration info sessions, school tours, open houses, and “choice chats” to help parents navigate this process. Schools of Choice, according to Unit 4, is a process that “gives parents and guardians of all students the opportunity to apply to a variety of elementary schools.” It was put in place to maintain diversity in the schools. Students are assigned their school based on factors including parent choice, sibling placement, proximity, building capacity, socioeconomic status, and availability of special programs. Other considerations include transportation, half-day or full-day kindergarten, middle school choice, and historical data.
It’s a lot to take in, but now having read the materials, I’m confident that I understand the process.
So Step 1, “Understanding the Process”… check!
On to Step 2: “Visit the Schools”
As part of my job I’ve had the privilege of spending time in a lot of the schools in our community, and as a mentor for the CU One-to-One Mentoring program, I visited Stratton Elementary once a week for three years, then Franklin Middle School for another three. So I’m already very familiar with Unit 4 and their facilities. But I’ve never been inside of our “proximity” school, Bottenfield, which is only 1.1 miles according to the “Proximity Map” on the Unit 4 website.
As part of the School of Choice process, Unit 4 facilitates tours once a week at the schools so that parents can witness first hand the culture and ambiance of the school. I’m very much looking forward to the Bottenfield tour, and plan on to also touring South Side and possibly Barkstall. School tours happen each Tuesday at 9 am, and on Wednesdays at 12:30pm at Barkstall and Kenwood (due to the balanced calendar). See chambanamoms.com for the calendar.
Another huge factor for our family is the bell schedule. We are not great morning people. Our daughter is barely out of bed by 8, so it would be slightly catastrophic if she had to go to school before 8. So our top schools start at 8:55am.
Stay tuned as I report back.
Amanda Baker has been a proud member of the Chamabana community since 2009 with her husband, Seth, and two kiddos, Zoe and Luke. She’s the owner of Five Foot Productions (yes, it’s because she’s five feet tall), a local video production company. She has a Masters in Arts Journalism from Syracuse University.