03 Jan Time to Enroll in Kindergarten! Making the Transition Smooth for Your Family

During the wind storm on Friday, December 14th, around 40 families gathered for our Kindergarten Readiness Night at Amara. The evening featured an overview of the Kindergarten enrollment process, a panel about the transition, and a chance for Q & A.

Kindergarten! The transition to Kindergarten is a really exciting one, and one that can be a big change for any preschooler, whether they are coming from a traditional indoor classroom or the woods of Cougar Mountain.

Tiny Trees has launched two cohorts of outdoor preschoolers to Kindergartens across King County since opening in 2016, each child experiencing the transition differently. One alumni family wrote, “Our year at Tiny Trees was magical and has left an indelible mark on all of us. (Our daughter) still loves climbing trees and exploring. This was actually our first year in public, full day school. The transition has been challenging. But, we always are able to come back to nature at the end of the day. We just walk through the neighborhood collecting small treasures and it helps smooth over the long day.”

Our goal is to help our families to feel prepared to enroll in Kindergarten programs and to help their Tiny Tree to weather the transition just like they do they rain. We wanted to share out our slide information (below) as well as a document recording our panel conversations.

Kindergarten Enrollment

What Types of Schools are There?

  • Neighborhood School (Attendance School) –Public school assigned by attendance area or through Open Enrollment, run by the school district (free)
  • Option School (Choice School) –Public school of choice run by the district (free), enrolled through Open Enrollment. Check out this Map of Option Schools
  • Charter School –Public School of choice not run by the district (free)
    • Impact Public Schools – Puget Sound Elementary
    • Soar Academy – Tacoma
  • Private School (Independent School) –Private School of choice, not run by the district (tuition based)
  • Home School & Co-ops –Education provided by parents for their children only

What are the Public School Districts near my Tiny Trees Park?

Seattle Public Schools: Be’er Sheva Park, Jefferson Park, Camp Long, Olympic Sculpture Park, Carkeek Park

Highline Public Schools: Seahurst Park

Federal Way Public Schools | Auburn School District: Five Mile Lake Park

Lake Washington School District: Big Finn Hill

Issaquah School District | Bellevue School District: Cougar Mountain

Shoreline School District: Carkeek Park

When do I enroll? (Key enrollment dates)

Seattle Public Schools

  • Jan. 7: Online Registration Opens for New Students
  • Jan. 19: Admissions Fair (Mercer Middle School)
  • Feb. 4, 2019: Open Enrollment Begins
  • Feb. 15, 2019: Open Enrollment Ends

Highline Public Schools

  • Jan. 22, 2019: Kindergarten Registration Begins
  • Dec. 10 – Feb 1: Accepting In-district transfer requests

Federal Way – No 2019 dates posted yet, but K registration opened 1/16 in 2018. | Auburn: Forms available now.

Lake Washington -Thurs Feb. 7th (in person at neighborhood schools)

Issaquah – No 2019 dates posted yet, check back mid-Jan | Bellevue – Jan. 7 – Feb 1: Online registration for Choice Schools

Shoreline– No 2019 dates yet, check back mid-Jan (https://www.shorelineschools.org/domain/64)

What materials do I need to enroll?

Typically, the following materials are needed. Please check with your intended school or district to verify:

  • Registration/application/enrollment form (basic information)
  • Parent-Guardian ID
  • Proof of student age (usually a birth certificate)
  • Proof of immunization
  • Special Education Form (if needed)
  • Proof of address (sometimes 2 forms are requested)
  • Emergency and medical provider contact information

For families experiencing homelessness, additional enrollment information is available here: http://www.k12.wa.us/HomelessEd/default.aspx

For immigrant and refugee families, helpful information is found here: http://www.k12.wa.us/MigrantBilingual/ImmigrantRights.aspx

Advocating for your Child

Educate yourself on standardized testing, supporting your child’s individual needs, and developmentally appropriate practice in elementary schools.


  • Visit your district webpage to learn about schools, programs and enrollment details.
  • Call your district office to learn about open houses or info. sessions
  • Follow your district on social media to stay informed on news, updates and deadlines.
  • Follow your school to stay informed on opportunities for  incoming kindergarten students to help them be “ready for kindergarten” in the fall. These programs include PreK Play & Learn, Kindergarten Jump Start and WaKIDS.
  • Connect with other families! Talk to your Tiny Trees teachers!

The Transition to Kindergarten from Outdoor Schools

We are also so grateful for our panel of four amazing educators & parents who. Find the notes of their conversation here:

We learned so much from our panel. Three big takeaways included:

  • Be an advocate for your child. Make sure to connect and form a team with your child’s teacher. Do your research.
  • Take it slow. Don’t overschedule during the first several months. The transition is tiring for your little one! “Expect the very worst from your child. They will be a mess when they get home.”
  • Sign up for Jumpstart. It’s free! And helps so much with the transition.

A few families have questioned whether the transition to Kindergarten will be harder for children attending outdoor preschools. According to our panel, there are a few major differences that can be supported with some tips:

  • In Kindergarten, there is less time to be outside during the day. In fact, about 45 minutes in each school day on average. Tip: Carve out time before or after school to play on the playground or outside around the house. Expect your Kindergartener to be exhausted, but still need to move their bodies. Provide them with reminders of what behaviors can happen outside v. inside.
  • There’s lots of sitting. Tip: Just like we do in outdoor preschool, little pockets of time to be still are developmentally appropriate ways to approach your wiggly kiddo. Wendy, a Kindergarten Teacher at STEM, suggested “Get used to storytimes at libraries to get used to sitting still with other kids around. Give them opportunities to practice for short amounts of time. Celebrate it.” Looking at schools where the Kindergarten teachers believe in the importance of play is your kid’s best bet.
  • What about academics? Tip: “They don’t need to know the whole alphabet when they enter Kindergarten,” said Genya, K teacher at Pathfinder. Just like we do at Tiny Trees, panelists recommended experiencing math and literacy in the environments that you live– at the grocery story, at home, in the park. Reading to your child is an important Kindergarten readiness tool.

Children thrive in school when they are used to following a daily routine, can self-regulate (calm down and think when things go wrong), and are independent in putting their backpack on, getting their lunch out, and putting their coat on. These are all things we work on at Tiny Trees to set your child up for success not only with Kindergarten but in life.

We are grateful to support your family in this transition! If you have additional questions or need support, we recommend that you reach out to your child’s teacher, your class’s program supervisor, or to Rachel Franz, Director of Education (rachel@tinytrees.org) with any additional questions. We’re always happy to help and look forward to continuing to see your children thrive throughout their journeys with us and beyond.

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