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Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) schools are exciting, enriching places where children learn to explore the world, solve problems and make friends.

Your child is eligible for the two-year Kindergarten program in the calendar year that they turn four or five. Your child must attend school if they are age six by September 1. Visit Find My School to find your home school.

Registration for the 2024-25 school year opens February 5, 2024. See below for information and resources ahead of the first day of school. We look forward to welcoming you to HWDSB!

Click here to explore Kindergarten resources for families.

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 is with them every step of the way! Our staff are also a great resource for you to talk with. Learn more in our Countdown to Kindergarten handbook.

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.

Kindergarten Registration

Your child must attend school if they are age six by September 1. Only parents or legal guardians can register their children for school. Click here for more information about Kindergarten Registration.

Registration for the 2024-25 school year opens February 5, 2024. Families can explore the Find My School tool to find your home school.

Registering students who require Specialized Services

Children enter Kindergarten with various needs and abilities. We want all children to have a positive and seamless entry to school. Click here to learn more about Entry to School.

Consider attending the Entry to School Virtual Information Night on January 18, 2024 to to learn about HWDSB’s Special Education team and the support services available for your child.

If you are registering a child requiring specialized services or supports, please complete the HWDSB registration form and the Tell Us About Your Child form.


HWDSB schools typically 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. Contact your home school in the spring to find your date to attend. Click here to learn more about Kindergarten Orientation.

Resources for Future Kindergarten Families

What will my child learn?

Click here to read our 2024 Countdown to Kindergarten Handbook.

During the two-year Kindergarten program, your child will have an opportunity to learn:



  • Play co-operatively, respect others and their property
  • Take turns and solve problems when playing with friends
  • Share ideas, feelings and points of view, listen to other ideas
  • Be part of a community and help others
  • Stand up for themselves and others
  • Be comfortable in school environment



  • Take care of their needs and belongings
  • Know when to ask for help
  • Be confident and willing to try new things
  • Self-control and responsibility for actions
  • Empathy for others
  • Knows how to make and keep friends
  • Understand healthy eating and activity
  • Control of large muscle groups (balance and coordination) and small (use of scissors and pencils)



  • Recognize, write and know the sounds of letters
  • Recognize their written name and sight words (the, and, a)
  • Retell a story that has been read aloud
  • Identify numbers from 1 to 10, assemble them and take them apart (e.g. 6 and 4 is 10)
  • Know basic shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, circle)
  • Know rhyming words (e.g. hat, pat, cat)
  • Talk about thoughts and feelings
  • Write simple messages using classroom resources
  • Handle a book and show an interest in reading
  • Ask questions and seek own answers



  • Be curious about the world and eager to explore
  • Explore technology to support learning (Internet, iPad, etc.)
  • Use problem-solving skills
  • State a problem, pose questions to answer questions
  • Use problem-solving strategies to support math and literacy

How can I help my 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 recognizes 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
  • Complete the Looksee Checklist (see section below, Is my child ready for Kindergarten?) and review with a health and/or child care professional.
  • Kindergarten Ready: Tips for parents/caregivers to ease the drop-off

Remember, families help HWDSB schools learn about each child’s unique strengths, needs and interests.

Is my child ready for Kindergarten?

The LookSee Checklist

looksee checklist

The Looksee Checklist is a simple, easy-to-use developmental tool designed to help monitor a child’s development from 1 month to 6 years of age, featuring a short list of “yes” or “no” questions about the child’s abilities. With the vision of helping all children reach their developmental potential, the Looksee Checklist (formerly the ndds checklist) was created in 1993 by ndds, a Canadian non-profit organization made up of early childhood specialists. In the 25 years since, it has been translated into over 10 languages and has helped thousands of children worldwide through initiatives with organizations like the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and World Vision.

Is my child language-ready for school?

Early Words

Many parents considering Kindergarten wonder if their child is ready for school. In addition to the Looksee Checklist, 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 their age
  • Be understood by people they don’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 an Ontario EarlyON program and/or access the LookSee Checklist. The LookSee Checklist makes the following recommendation for follow up, “If you answer “no” to any question or have any concerns about your child’s development, follow-up with a health care and/or child care professional.”

Call (905) 381-2828 to register your child before June 15 so your child is eligible for Early Words services in Kindergarten. There is no cost to families. Find more information.

How can I learn with my child?

Early ON - Child and Family CentreEarlyON Child and Family Centres provide free opportunities for children from birth to six years of age to participate in play and inquiry-based programs, and support parents and caregivers in their roles. These centres offer safe and welcoming environments open to all families across Ontario, with qualified professionals and quality programs. Families and caregivers can find support, advice, make personal connections and access a network of resources. Click here to find a location near you or call 905.524.4884 for more information.

What are my 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.

Hamilton Public Health Services

Hamilton Public Health Services offers a range services and supports to address the growing and changing needs of our community. Nurses, doctors, counsellors, and other trained health professionals work with our community partners to promote and protect your health, prevent infectious diseases, and inspect for health hazards.

Reporting Vaccinations: Parents are responsible for submitting their school-age child’s immunization/vaccine record to Hamilton Public Health. Visit the City of Hamilton website for more information on how to submit the immunization record and/or Hamilton Public Health protocols regarding vaccine exemptions.

Parenting Supports: As a parent, you are the most important person in your child’s life. It is normal for all parents to have questions about parenting.

Parenting School-Aged Children: Information to help you guide your children and teens through this exciting and interesting period of growth and development.

More Resources:

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 1.2 kms. 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.

Additional 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 have learned to use the toilet?

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. HWDSB schools have standard sized toilets. Find more information at www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/toilet_learning

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.  Educators respond to the variety of needs in the class by providing children with a mix of experiences and calm learning opportunities, that fit their energy levels.

How do I report my child’s vaccinations to Hamilton Public Health?

Reporting Vaccinations: Parents are responsible for submitting their school-age child’s immunization/vaccine record to Hamilton Public Health. Visit the City of Hamilton website for more information on how to submit the immunization record and/or Hamilton Public Health protocols regarding vaccine exemptions.

Important Links

Key Resources

Learn More

Updated on Monday, February 05, 2024.
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