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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Kindergarten Camp

July 12, 2010

ants on a log

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?


I am teaching a summer class similar to this at my school. I would love to see examples of books/activities that your school has done to get a better idea of what I should practice. This is the first year we are offering this class and it is meant to be active for our kids.

I would love to have the option of a kindergarten camp for our upcoming kindergarten students. I believe that it will help students and parents get used to the school, teachers, and activities. Many times students are very hesitant to leave their parents the first few weeks of school, so I feel that a program such as a summer kindergarten camp will greatly help in easing the anxiety of students and parents.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps