Kindergarten 101: A Rookie Parent’s Guide

Starting kindergarten can be daunting for both students and parents. When my son started kindergarten last fall, one of the hardest things for me was to know what I was supposed to do and when I was supposed to do it. Luckily I had a couple of great friends who had walked the kindergarten road before me. They gave me a step-by-step road map through the journey. 

In order to save you the million questions I had for my friends, here are the ins and outs of sending your child off to kindergarten for the first time!

**Note, most of the information here pertains to the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) or the Clear Creek Amana School District (CCA).  Other area districts may have different procedures. You should always check with your local school if you have any questions regarding enrollment and school information. **Kindergarten 101: Everything a Rookie Parent Needs to Know (Iowa City area)


If your child will be five years old on or before September 15th, 2018, they are eligible to attend kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. In the Iowa City School District, Kindergarten Registration will be held on Wednesday, February 28th from 7:40 a.m. to 7:10 p.m. You should go to your child’s assigned elementary school to register. In all except a very few cases, school attendance is based on address. If you don’t know which elementary school your child will attend, you can call 319-688-1000 to find out.

You will need a copy of your child’s birth certification or other proof of their birthdate, proof of residency (such as a utility bill) as well as their immunization records. If you do not have these documents you should come to registration anyway, and staff will assist you in registering your child. Registration will take approximately 30 minutes and your child does not need to be present. If you are not able to attend registration on the 28th, contact your child’s elementary school.

Kindergarten Round-up

Following registration you will receive information regarding Kindergarten Round-up. This year’s Kindergarten Round-up is scheduled for April 19th from 2:30-3:30. Some elementary schools may have slightly different times, so check with your specific school for details. Parents are encouraged to attend with their students. 

If you live in the Clear Creek Amana district (mainly addresses in Tiffin, Oxford, Amana, and the westernmost parts of North Liberty) you should call the elementary school your child will attend to list your child as enrolling in Kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. 

  • Amana Elementary (Iowa County residents) 622-3255
  • Clear Creek Elementary (Oxford residents) 828-4505
  • North Bend Elementary (North Liberty residents) 626-3950
  • Tiffin Elementary (Tiffin residents) 545-2081

If you are unsure where your child will attend kindergarten, you can call any of the above phone numbers for information. 

Clear Creek Amana School District will hold Kindergarten Round-up at your assigned elementary school on March 7th. More information will be sent directly to you closer to the date. Following the round-up date, you will be given information on how to register your child for kindergarten online.

Other area districts will have their own procedures. Contact the elementary school closest to you to determine when and how to register your kindergartner. 

School Supplies

You will likely receive a list of necessary school supplies at round-up.  The school supply lists may also be available on your school’s website. Some supplies will be individual (meaning your child keeps what he or she brings) and others are communal (meaning they are shared between students). Be sure to ask your child’s teacher what supplies are meant to be individual and which supplies will be shared, especially if your child is wanting to pick out a special pencil box or take-home folder.

Social Media/Connectivity

Either at registration or at round-up, you will likely receive information on what types of social media platforms your school uses. I would recommend following whatever they use: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., as well as signing up for their email distribution lists and text messaging if you desire. This will allow you to get information regarding special events, social opportunities, and important school announcements.

Kindergarten 101: Everything a Rookie Parent Needs to Know (Iowa City area)


Both ICCSD and CCA use PowerSchool to manage student registration and information. In the Iowa City district you will start a PowerSchool account during registration. In the CCA district, information will be sent to you to start an account after kindergarten round-up. PowerSchool is accessible as a website and also as a mobile app. 

Summer: Completing Registration

Sometime over the summer you will receive notice that it is time to complete your student’s registration and pay enrollment fees. You will do this online via the PowerSchool app. It is very important that you log in at that time and check your emergency contact information (phone, email, and other contacts) for both parents. This will allow you to receive timely communication regarding emergencies, weather related announcements, and other important communications. 

Lunch Money

Both ICCSD and CCA use an online system to pay for lunch. ICCSD uses “My School Bucks”  and CCA uses “In Touch.” You can fund your student’s lunch account via electronic transfer or via cash or check payments at the school office. Every time your student goes through the lunch line, money will be deducted from his or her online account. The system will send you an email when you child’s account gets low. You can choose to either fund the account each time funds are lacking or set up an automatic payment when the account reaches a certain level. For example, whenever my son’s account hits $10 it automatically adds $30 from my checking account. I never have to worry about my child’s account going into insufficient funds because I forgot to make a deposit. 

If your child will be bringing lunch regularly to school, it is helpful to invest in a good lunch box. Also to talk to your school to find out what can and cannot be brought in a home-packed lunch. Some schools have no restrictions, and others have specific items that cannot be brought to school due to allergy concerns. If your school does have restricted items (peanut butter is the most common), help those allergy kids and parents out by looking for alternatives to those items and abiding by the policies.


By Iowa law, the school district must provide bus service to and from school if your address falls more than two miles from the school. Keep in mind this distance is measured “as the crow flies” and not via streets or sidewalks. Districts may choose to provide bus service for children who live between one mile and two miles from school, but this will vary by district.  Some exceptions are made for children with special needs, or those who live in rural areas or in areas where walking or biking may be dangerous.

In the Iowa City School District questions regarding transportation can be directed to Esme Davis, District Transportation Manager (319-688-1187). Some students living less than two miles from school are still eligible for transportation through the “Pay to Ride” Program

In the Clear Creek Amana district questions regarding transportation should go to Dave McKinney, CCA Transportation Director (319-530-4456).

Other options for school transportation include: walking, biking, neighborhood carpools, and individual car transportation. Many before and after school programs in the area also include transportation to and from school.

Pick up/Drop off schedules

In the ICCSD the elementary school day begins at 7:55 a.m. and ends at 2:55 p.m., except on Thursdays when the day ends at 1:55. Supervision is provided for students being dropped off or walking to school beginning at 7:40 a.m., unless students are participating in the school’s Before/After School Program or eating breakfast at school. Each school has their own procedures for the before and after school car lines, and some may have differing times for supervision and drop off. Check with your individual school for these procedures. It is best to allow extra time, as the traffic and congestion can be very heavy. Try not to be in a hurry. Everyone is in the same boat trying to get to work and back to home!

CCA elementary schools start their school day at 8:15 and end at 3:15, except on Wednesdays when they release at 1:15. Classrooms open at 8:08. Students can arrive no earlier than 7:45, unless they are participating in the school’s Before/After School Program. As with ICCSD, each elementary school will have their own procedures for car lines, and traffic can get heavy. 

Back-to-School Night/Ice Cream Social

Sometime in the week before school begins, your elementary school will likely hold a Back-to-School Night or Ice Cream Social. This is a great opportunity for you to meet your child’s teacher, ask questions about school routine, bring supplies to school, find your child’s desk, and get really excited about the first day! 

First Day of Kindergarten

Whether you walk your child to school, drive them, put them on the bus, or they go in some other way, allow a little bit of extra time on that first day. Pictures, backpacks, and lunch boxes always seem to take longer than you think they will. If you are taking your child to school that first day, be sure to check with your school regarding their policy on drop-offs.  Some schools may allow you to escort your child into his or her classroom. At other schools, they may ask you to give your kisses and hugs outside. The teachers will then line the kids up and march them in with a happy wave. 

Kindergarten 101: Everything a Rookie Parent Needs to Know (Iowa City area)

Iowa City Community School District Resources:

District Website

Kindergarten Registration Flyer 2018

Attendance Boundary Map

Elementary Lunch Menus

Free and Reduced Lunch information

Clear Creek Amana School District Resources:

District Website

Elementary Lunch Menus

Free and Reduced Lunch Information

District Calendar

Bus information and routes

Solon Community School District Resources:

District Website

College Community School District Resources:

District Website


Starting kindergarten is a milestone for both students and their parents. It can be daunting to navigate all the ins and outs, but try to relax. By the end of the year you’ll be an elementary school pro!



Sarah is a proud Iowa native who currently lives in North Liberty with her husband and 2 sons. She grew up in rural Benton county and moved to the Iowa City area in 2005 to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy. Now she balances raising two growing boys with a work as a pediatric physical therapist. Outside of work and family, Sarah loves music, playing her cello, running, baking, crochet, church activities, and cheering for the Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Vikings.


  1. I’m glad you mentioned that if your child will be five years old on or before September 15th, 2018 they are eligible to attend kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. I have been wondering if my son would be old enough to attend. I’m glad that he will be old enough to attend. I will have to get him registered.


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