Camp prepares kids for kindergarten
BY AMELIA HARPER
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Some future kindergarten students got an early taste of school as they participated in the Ready Freddy Kindergarten Transition Enrichment Camp held this week at most elementary schools in the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools district.
The Ready Freddy camps were being held from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday through today this week. Kindergarten students could come to their school for these few hours “to learn how to do school,” Winstead Elementary School Principal Yolanda Wiggins said. The focus of the camp this week mainly was on helping students learn classroom behavior and protocols and how to navigate the breakfast and lunch lines.
Teaching these aspects of education will help both students and their parents get adjusted to what lies ahead for the first week of school when kindergarten classes operate full-time, Wiggins said.
“Going to kindergarten is a big step for these students,” said Mark Cockrell, chief academic officer for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. “These students and their parents need to get acclimated to kindergarten and this camp helps them do that. There were some tears shed this week, but more tears were shed by parents than students.”
The students in the Ready Freddy camp at Winstead Elementary School seemed happy and engaged on Wednesday as they participated in fun educational activities, ate meals at school and learned about the joys of recess. Roughly 35 kindergarten students attended the camp this week out of 130 students expected to enroll in kindergarten at the school by next week when school begins in earnest.
The school district piloted a kindergarten transition camp last year in two schools in the district using funds set aside for the purpose. This year, the plan was to expand the kindergarten camp concept to all elementary schools that offer kindergarten. But the cash-strapped district had no extra funding this year.
Still the school district found a way, Cockrell said.
“We decided to hold the Ready Freddy camps the week before school begins when teachers are already having teacher work days,” he said. “Each elementary school could run the program as they see fit and the principals have been very supportive. I think this is actually working out better.”
The Ready Freddy Kindergarten Transition Enrichment Camp is free and was open to all incoming kindergarten students. But the camp also was voluntary and transportation to the camp was not provided.
Part of the purpose of the camps is to allow teachers a chance to assess where students are educationally and developmentally in a smaller group setting. Between this and the acclimation aspect, Wiggins said these students will be better prepared to start the new year off right.
“Even though every student doesn’t attend the Ready Freddy camp, those that do can model proper behavior for the other students who come,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins said the kindergartens throughout the school district also work to acclimate students to the kindergarten setting through staggered enrollment. Next Monday, one-third of kindergarten students will begin classes, on Tuesday another third will attend and on Wednesday, the final third will start class. On Thursday, the full kindergarten classes will begin.
Cockrell said he hopes the Ready Freddy camps will gain in popularity in the future. When the majority of students are attending these camps, the school district may be able to eliminate the staggered enrollment because students already will be acclimated to the classroom.
“That will give us three more days of instruction,” he said.