Some kindergarten students in Fauquier County will start school tomorrow and others on Tuesday in a pilot program designed to ease their adjustment to school.

Half of the kindergartners at Claude Thompson Elementary School in Marshall and at Grace Miller Elementary School in Bealeton will begin school tomorrow, the scheduled start date for Fauquier County public schools, while the other half remain at home. On Tuesday, the second half of the kindergartners at the two schools will begin school while the first group stays at home. All kindergarten students at Thompson and Miller will attend school Wednesday.

"It's a way to help young children make the transition from being at home to being in a school environment," said Sandra Mitchell, associate superintendent.

"It will give them more attention from their teachers and the opportunity to know their classmates easier, because it will be a smaller group," said Miller Elementary's principal, Judy Williams.

Miller Elementary has five kindergarten classes of 20 students each. Tomorrow and Tuesday, each class will have 10 students. Thompson Elementary also has five classes, of about 24 students each.

"It does help alleviate some fears for the first day of school and gives a more personal touch," said Thompson Elementary's principal, Marypat Warter. "You have about 11 to 12 students with attention from two adults."

Warter said Fauquier teachers learned about the staggered start program at an educational conference last spring. She said it has been used for a few years at other elementary schools in the state, including in Albemarle County in central Virginia.

"Our staff really wanted to consider it," Williams said. "It's something that will definitely be considered by other elementary schools in the county. They're watching us very closely."