Guide to Starting Kindergarten in the Iowa City Area

Starting kindergarten can be daunting for both students and parents. When my oldest started Kindergarten, I remember a lot of information coming in quickly — and trying to keep track of everything was challenging. Luckily, his preschool teachers were great about keeping us informed. Since then, I have sent two kids off to kindergarten, and am happy to share some important resources.

To save you the million questions you may have, this post details the ins-and-outs of sending your child to kindergarten for the first time! Please note: most of the information in this guide is relevant to children attending schools in the Iowa City Community School District and Clear Creek Amana School District. Always contact your school with specific questions and for clarifications.

Guide to Starting Kindergarten in the Iowa City Area


Kindergarten in the Iowa City area


Iowa City Community School District

Kindergarten Registration

If your child will be five years old on or before September 15, 2021, they are eligible to attend kindergarten for the 2021-2022 school year. In all except a 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 birth-date, proof of residency (such as a utility bill) as well as their immunization records. If you do not have these documents you should call your neighborhood school anyway, and staff will assist you in registering your child. Registration for incoming kindergartners usually happens in March.

Call your neighborhood school for more information. 

Kindergarten Round Up

Following registration you will receive information regarding Kindergarten Round Up. Due to COVID-19, some elementary schools have opted to do a virtual Kindergarten Round Up. If your child did not attend a round up, have no fear. Your child can still go to kindergarten. This event typically happens in March or April.


Clear Creek Amana Kindergarten

Registration and Round Up

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 2021-2022 school year.

  • Amana Elementary (Iowa County residents) 622-3255
  • Clear Creek Elementary (Oxford residents and the western part of Tiffin) 828-4505
  • North Bend Elementary (North Liberty residents) 626-3950
  • Tiffin Elementary (Mainly Tiffin residents, but a few Coralville and North Liberty neighborhoods) 545-2081

If you are unsure where your child will attend kindergarten, you can call any of the above phone numbers for information. Find more information about Kindergarten Round Up online  Following the round up date, you will be given information on how to register your child for kindergarten online.

Other area districts 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 during 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 they bring) and others are communal (meaning they are shared between students). Ask your child’s teacher what supplies are individual vs. shared, especially if your child wants to pick out a special pencil box or take-home folder.


Social Media and 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 follow 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 receive information regarding special events, social opportunities, and important school announcements.


PowerSchool

Both ICCSD and CCA use PowerSchool to manage student registration and information. In the Iowa City Community School District, you will start a PowerSchool (soon to be Infinite Campus) account during registration. In the CCA district, information will be sent to you to start an account after Kindergarten Round Up. This tool is accessible as a website and also as a mobile app.


Summer: Completing Registration

Sometime during 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 or website. 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 about emergencies, weather-related announcements, and other important communication. It is helpful to include the information for all parents and/or step-parents who might be involved in your child’s care so that everyone will be notified about late starts, early dismissals, or school closures — due to weather or emergencies.


Lunch Money

Both Iowa City Community School and Clear Creek Amana districts 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 your child’s account is 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. That way, you never have to worry about their account going into insufficient funds because you 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, 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.


Transportation

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 Community School District, call 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 call 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 Iowa City Community School District, 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 p.m.. 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 its 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 heavy. Try not to be in a hurry. Everyone is in the same boat trying to get to work or back home!

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


Back-to-School Night & Ice Cream Social

Sometime during 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 the school routine, bring supplies to school, find your child’s desk, and get excited about the first day! Keep an eye out for this information or call your child’s school to find out when this will be happening. Some schools are opting not to do this during the pandemic — so check with your child’s school for more information.


First Day of Kindergarten

Whether your child walks, drives, or takes the bus  — allow extra time on that first day. Pictures, backpacks, and lunch boxes always seem to take longer than you think they will.

If you are dropping your child at school that first day, 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.


Iowa City Community School District Resources:

Clear Creek Amana School District Resources:

Solon Community School District Resources:

College Community School District Resources:


Final Advice

Get involved in your child’s school. It is a great way to meet other parents and a great way to be engaged and know what is happening. Most schools have some sort of Parent Teacher Organization (PTA) or a similar equivalent. Find out when they meet and join!

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 and you can be the one sharing your knowledge with other friends!

I am a small town Iowa girl who is loving life in the Iowa City area. I graduated from The University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Elementary and Middle Level education. I moved to the Iowa City area for my first teaching job and never looked back. It is here in Iowa City where I met my husband, Robert, married him, and we started our family. After our oldest was born, I left the classroom to be a stay at home mommy. We are the parents of three; Gabe (April 2013), Maggie (April 2015), and Julianna (September 2017). In addition to being a stay at home mom, I also substitute teach occasionally. I have many hobbies and interests. I love to be active by running and working out. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family, trying new recipes, playing board and card games and being involved in church. I am a sports enthusiast and enjoy cheering on the Hawkeyes, UNI Panthers, and the Chicago Cubs. I feel grateful for our little family. Life as a mom of three is busy and chaotic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way

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