Moms and Dads walked in, clutching the hand of a 5 or 6 year old who anxiously looked around the lobby. Nervous chatter, excited whispers, reassuring pats on the back, and a few tears. “Let’s find your nametag!” Today was the first day of kindergarten camp at our school, a week designed to let our incoming kindergartners “kick the tires” on their new school.
Our kindergarten camp runs every morning this week, from 9-11:30. Each day follows the same schedule: center time, group craft, snack, and read aloud (Monday’s story: If You Take a Mouse to School ) and playground. Highlights of the week include a visit to the cafeteria (Tuesday), a short bus ride (Wednesday), and a story read to the group by the principal (Friday). The kids divide up differently each day and by the end of the week, they will have spent a morning in each of the K classrooms.
Our kindergarten teachers use K camp as a way to get to know the kids and form classes for this year. While some of the K kids have a brother or sister already at our school, others are there for the first time. Some have been in preschool for three years, others never went. Some are reading; most are not. One by one during the week, the teachers bring a child into the hallway for a quick assessment. Measures of alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness will provide good information about literacy preparedness, as will measures of print knowledge and concepts. Good old-fashioned named writing tells a story also (see Chapter 2 of this report for an explanation of the skills and abilities linked to later outcomes in reading, writing, and spelling).
Although it’s been a few years, I still remember bringing my firstborn to K camp, hiding my own tears and nerves. Even though we waited an extra year, it was still a big transition for us. Molly also remembers K camp: she remembers getting to go on the playground for the first time, and the snack! (ants on a log)
How about where you live? What does your school do to prepare incoming kindergarten students? How are you preparing your child for school?