The Kindergarten Countdown

Things to know if you have a child starting kindergarten in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

​When the catalogs with new backpack designs arrive on our doorstep, and popsicle play date emails start to appear, it signals that the start of a new school year is close. A new backpack and school supplies are as much utilitarian as they are an expression of personal style for students, especially children starting kindergarten. Kindergarten is a big step — and not just for kids. I remember there being so many unknowns when my now rising third-grader was embarking on his first day of kindergarten. I can still see him stepping onto the bus, climbing steps that were almost as tall as he was. 

If it's your first time as a parent of a kindergarten student in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, here are a few things to know. 

Immunizations and Health Assessments

All children entering North Carolina public schools must have certification of required immunizations and a health assessment from his or her doctor before the first day of school. Any medical exemption must be in writing from the child’s doctor. This is all part of enrollment requirements.

Staggered Entry

For CMS students, a kindergarten student’s first day is one day during the first week, but only one day. Students are staggered into classes in smaller groups so teachers can get to spend more time with them. The full class and regular schedule begins the second week of school.

Making New Friends

To connect with other school parents, find the school's website and join the PTA to learn about upcoming events and and other useful information relevant to your child's school. You may also find that the school's PTA has a Facebook page with school updates.

Meet the Teacher

Finding out who your child's teacher is may not happen until the week before school starts, which can be unsettling. Once you find out, you may hear from that teacher, but there is always the opportunity to introduce yourself and ask how you can help get the school year off to a good start. Also check the school's calendar of events to see if a meet-the-teacher night is planned.

Bus Schedules

If you plan for your child to ride the bus, don’t be surprised if you also don’t receive information about bus stop location and times until a week before school starts. Procedures for car riders and walkers are specific to each school. Expect information to come about that along with other start-of-school information.

Lunch Money

For children who plan to eat lunch provided by the school or just want to be able to get a carton of milk or snack from time to time, you can set up an online account for your child to pay for meals. CMS uses PayPams. PayPams works like a debit account with money loaded for your child to spend in the school cafeteria. No more worrying about having cash for lunch money (though cash is still accepted), and you can go online and see what food and drink purchases they are making. You can also apply for free and reduced lunch. A complete breakfast if available at no charge for all CMS students.

Want to Know More?

For more information about school admission requirements, start dates and more, visit the websites for these area public schools.