There are children all across Bradley County who will be starting kindergarten this fall, ready or not. Educators at one local school, Valley View Elementary School, have been doing what they can …
There are children all across Bradley County who will be starting kindergarten this fall, ready or not. Educators at one local school, Valley View Elementary School, have been doing what they can to make sure they are, in fact, ready.
This past week, Valley View hosted Kindergarten Camp, a day camp where children took part in a bunch of educational activities, with bits of summer fun added into the mix.
“We started our camp last year to help families better prepare their children for kindergarten – to give them a kick-start,” said instructional coach Stephanie Jones. “We had great results our first year, and we’ve seen great progress with our students this year.”
Twenty-four future kindergarteners visited the school three mornings this past week for activities ranging from counting games to craft projects emphasizing letters of the alphabet.
The theme was “Mother Goose on the Loose,” and many of the activities revolved around the popular Mother Goose nursery rhymes.
Each day had a set schedule, and students rotated through different centers where they learned everything from how to hold a pencil to how to count to 20. There were also recesses and snack times to give the children breaks and opportunities to socialize.
The camp was led by Jones and kindergarten teachers Karen Bishop, Shelley Cameron and Melanie James, along with a few volunteers.
“It’s been a really great experience,” Bishop said. “I’ve seen a progression just in three days of all the students learning new tasks and concepts.”
The camp was offered free of charge for all kindergarten-aged children – and not just those who will attend Valley View.
Organizers of Kindergarten Camp decided this year to make it available to all Cleveland and Bradley County children starting kindergarten this fall. This was made possible thanks to a new local sponsor, Bank of Cleveland.
Fliers were distributed to Head Start preschool programs and other elementary schools in April. While most of the campers were ones who will attend Valley View, Jones said there were a couple from other school zones.
“We really wanted to share this with the community, because we saw such a difference with our campers last year,” Jones said. “This is the only summer program like this in this area, the only one specifically for preparing students for kindergarten.”
Plans are already in the works for another camp next year, and it will continue to be made available to students zoned for other schools.
Jones said programs like this are needed because kindergarten is “much more rigorous” than it once was. For example, teachers are now helping children learn to read in kindergarten, rather than waiting until the first grade.
Cameron pointed out children all start kindergarten with different levels of ability, based on whatever instruction they receive at home or in preschool. The Kindergarten Camp activities were designed to help children all be on the same page when it comes to basic skills and knowledge.
While the camp is done for the summer, the educators did offer a few tips for parents, grandparents and others who want to help their children get kindergarten-ready.
“I don’t think we can over-emphasize the importance of reading to children,” James said. “That helps them with their listening skills, their vocabularies … many different skills which will help them in school.”
Those who spend time with children are also encouraged to incorporate things like counting and reciting the alphabet into everyday play.
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