Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) schools are exciting, enriching places where children learn to explore the world, solve problems and make friends.
What is kindergarten?
Kindergarten is a two-year, full-day program that helps children get the best possible start in school. Your child will be challenged and encouraged to do their very best. Our caring team of educators, including a teacher and an early childhood educator, are with them every step of the way! They are also a great resource for you to talk with.
Why is kindergarten important?
● Early learning experiences are crucial to the future well-being of children
● Early interactions affect the way connections are made in the brain
● A solid foundation for reading and math must be built
● Children build skills through developmentally appropriate play-based experiences
When is kindergarten registration?
Kindergarten is available for four- and five-year-old students at schools in September.
Registration starts each year on the first Monday in February at your home school. Visit Find My School to find your home school.
HWDSB schools welcome families to kindergarten orientation events in May of each year. This is a great chance for families to visit the school with their child(ren) to learn more about kindergarten. As May approaches, please return to this web page to check for event details.
Register for kindergarten
When can my child attend?
Your child is eligible for the two-year kindergarten program in the year that they turn four or five.
Your child must attend school if they are age six by September 1.
How to register
Parents register at the school in their neighbourhood.
Find your neighbourhood school in our School Locator tool or call 905-527-5092, ext. 2391.
What do I bring to registration?
Only parents or legal guardians can register their children for school. The following documents are required:
- Proof of age (child’s birth certificate or passport);
- Proof of address (identification that shows parent/guardian’s current home address);
- Proof of immunization;
- Verification of date of arrival/immigration documents (if the child was not born in Canada).
- Completed Kindergarten Registration Form (this includes an optional early years survey). This form is also available at your school.
What will my child learn?
During the two-year kindergarten program, your child will have an opportunity to learn:
BELONGING & CONTRIBUTING
SELF-REGULATION & WELL-BEING
DEMONSTRATING LITERACY & MATHEMATICS BEHAVIOURS
PROBLEM SOLVING & INNOVATING
Help your child prepare for kindergarten
The importance of families
You are are an important part of your child’s education!
Young children come to school capable, curious and rich in experiences. Important stages of learning and development occur between birth and six years of age in all areas of growth — communication, emotional, intellectual, physical and social.
Children learn at different rates and in different ways. Our team of educators recognize the unique strengths, interests and needs of children entering our program and adjust teaching methods and materials to support their growth.
How to help your child prepare for kindergarten:
- Be responsive and positive – listen to your child
- Talk, read and sing to your child daily
- Encourage clear speech
- Encourage safe exploration and play
- Be selective in the TV shows you watch together
- Encourage independent toileting and dressing
- Promote sharing and co-operation
- Expose your child to painting, crayons and scissors
- Introduce your child to letters and numbers
- Visit your local library and family resource programs such as Early ON programs (formerly known as Ontario Early Years Centres and Parenting and Family Literacy Centres)
- Complete the ndds checklist developmental tool (see section below, Is my child ready for Kindergarten?) and review with a health and/or child care professional.
Is my child ready for kindergarten?
The ndds checklist is a developmental tool to be completed by a parent or caregiver. It provides a snapshot of a child’s development to discuss with a health and/or child care professional. The areas of development covered by the ndds checklist include vision, hearing, emotional, fine motor, gross motor, social, self-help, communication, and learning and thinking. The checklists coincide with key developmental stages up to age six. See an example of the ndds checklist for three year old children.
Is my child language-ready for school?
Many parents considering kindergarten wonder if their child is ready for school. In addition to the Nipissing District Developmental Screen, HWDSB staff offer the following guidelines for early language.
By age four, your child should:
- Follow simple directions with two or three steps (e.g. Get your boots and hat and meet me at the front door)
- Pronounce words like children his/her age
- Be understood by people he/she doesn’t know most of the time
- Speak in sentences that sound about the same as an adult’s
- Use endings on words like dogs, jumped, or biking
- Play a pretend game and describe it to you in enough detail for you to understand
- Ask questions about a book you just read together, like “Who was your favourite character?”
- If your child is unable to do the things listed above, a speech-language pathologist should meet with your child.
This can be arranged in Hamilton through Early Words, a publicly funded organization that provides speech and language services to pre-school children. You can also visit a Check It Out Clinic with no appointment necessary.
Child care options
The Hamilton Child Care Registry is an online registry that makes it easy to find and apply for licensed child care in Hamilton. If you require financial help, you can apply for a fee subsidy with your Hamilton Child Care Registry account.
For details on child care at HWDSB schools, please visit our Child Care web page.
Children enter kindergarten with various needs and abilities. At registration, please tell staff if your child has any special needs or if they have been involved with services like Early Words or programs at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre. Special education program and services are available for children to support their success at school. We want all children to have a positive and seamless transition to school.
Find out how HWDSB supports your student with Special Needs.
Transportation and the First Rider program
Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation Services (HWSTS) provides transportation for eligible HWDSB kindergarten students if the walking distance to their home school exceeds 1 km. HWSTS mails a letter to eligible students in mid-August detailing the online parent information portal and busing.
We take student safety seriously and believe that our youngest riders deserve support as they start to ride a school bus. Each summer, HWSTS offers First Rider orientation and safety training sessions for kindergarten students and guardians. In sessions about 45 minutes long, students and their parents watch a bus safety video, ride on a school bus, and receive an introduction to all the safety features on the bus. Students will receive an information package and a certificate with their name on it.
Details are posted online each June about the First Rider programs, locations, dates, and eligibility.
Questions and answers
Can my child attend kindergarten part-time?
Kindergarten is not mandatory, and parents can choose to have their child attend kindergarten on a part-time basis. Schools will explain how part-time attendance would be structured (e.g., half-time mornings/afternoons etc.) Your child can begin full-time attendance when you feel they are ready.
Does my child need to be toilet trained?
All children have a right to attend kindergarten in the calendar year they turn four years old. Children arrive with diverse abilities and needs, and all are welcome at school. HWDSB staff will work with parents on ways to help children with toileting support, and a school plan that meets each child’s needs and honors their dignity. If a child is not toilet trained by age four, the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends a visit with your family doctor.
What if my child still naps?
Each child is unique and the rate at which they adapt to school will vary. Educators strive for a sense of calm in the classroom and provide large blocks of time to engage children’s attention in sustained, complex play and inquiry. There is no dedicated nap time in kindergarten but educators respond to the variety of needs in their class by providing children with a mix of active and calming learning opportunities, for example, so they can find activities that fit their energy levels.
Kindergarten Information Toolkit