Buttonwood Park Zoo hosts a welcoming start for all incoming Kindergarten students of New Bedford Public Schools.

A child’s transition to kindergarten is an important educational milestone. Making that transition a success requires a team effort from teachers, principals, community partners, and families.

On Friday, August 9, New Bedford Public Schools, in coordination with more than 20 community organizations that make up the New Bedford Birth to 3rd Partnership, will hold a “Smooth Sailing into Kindergarten” Day of Celebration event at Buttonwood Park Zoo. This event is for all children registered to begin Kindergarten this fall. Children can register on that day if they are not already registered. Children and their families will receive free admission to the zoo between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and are welcome to stay for the day. Special prizes will be awarded by drawing.

Preregistered families in need of transportation may present their postcard for free bus access to the zoo courtesy of the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA). A return trip STRA bus pass will be available at the SRTA table during the event from 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to any registered family that requests one.

This is the fourth annual Smooth Sailing day of celebration. Last year’s event was a huge success with 1,150 attendees, including 264 kindergartners.

New Bedford Public Schools Family Welcome Center works throughout the year on kindergarten registration, part of a larger strategy to meet and partner with families when their children are still preschool-age. The district is also working to expand high-quality preschool offerings and professional development for preschool teachers, in collaboration with community-based preschools.

Kindergarten is a big deal. For some, it means going to school for the first time, and being away from mom and dad for more than a couple hours at a time. That can be very stressful for kids, and I think it's a great idea to have a fun kickoff event to say welcome!