‘It calms the nerves for everybody’

Kindergarten camp gives students at T.R. Simmons a jump start

By NICOLE SMITH – Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 7/18/19

Fifty rising kindergartners at T.R. Simmons Elementary School are getting a jump start to the upcoming school year.  

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‘It calms the nerves for everybody’

Kindergarten camp gives students at T.R. Simmons a jump start

Posted

Fifty rising kindergartners at T.R. Simmons Elementary School are getting a jump start to the upcoming school year.  

School officials and teachers are hosting the second annual K-AMP (kindergarten camp) for students who will be entering kindergarten to become acclimated with the procedures involved in a typical school day. The camp also focuses on academics and social skills.

“We really want to look at getting our kids fully ready for kindergarten, as much as we can,” T.R. Simmons Principal Meagan Fields said. “Kindergarten is a big world for 5-year-olds.”

Approximately 50 students have enrolled in the central office-funded program. They are divided into classrooms and paired with T.R. Simmons teachers to complete daily activities. One instructor from Memorial Park Elementary School was also working with students on Tuesday. 

The two-week program started last week and will finish this Friday. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday students participate in fun lessons aimed at improving reading, math, science, and motor skills.

Fields said, “STEAM-ing into kindergarten” projects have been added this year for students to complete science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics activities designed for their skill set.

Students practice writing their names, counting, and matching as well. 

There’s also the psychological component of K-AMP that helps the children mentally prepare for starting school. Fields explained that learning simple routines, such as navigating their way around the school or learning where lunch trays are located, gives students a head start before all children return to school on Aug. 8.  

“It’s a major thing to come through all of those changes and transitions into the building,” Fields said.

Another facet of K-AMP is social interaction and the ability to make friends. 

“We teach social and emotional learning because students are not going to do their best if they don’t feel safe where they are,” Fields said. “We want to put in some of those practices of being able to collaborate with other students, being able to regulate our emotions, being able to feel that anxiety about kindergarten — and then learning that those routines and procedures in kindergarten are just those day-to-day [things].”

Fields said the school used input from parents last year to make a few changes to this year’s K-AMP.

However, she says the benefits of kindergarten camp were evident for last year’s incoming students involved.  

“We had a couple of students that were very anxious about coming into kindergarten, and they stayed that way through kindergarten camp. But when kindergarten started, it was almost a relief for them,” Fields said. “They knew what to do coming in. They were more at ease. There were no tears coming in, and they stepped up to be leaders.”

Parents will be invited to the school on Friday to see the accomplishments of their children and their growth in two week’s time.  

“Parents have that fear when they send their child to school (for the first time),” Fields said. “It does calm nerves for everybody.”

K-AMP is limited to 50 rising kindergartners and is free to those who register in June each year. Participating students receive transportation, breakfast, and lunch free of charge.   

Fields said 170 students are enrolled for kindergarten at T.R. Simmons for the upcoming school year, but she expects nearly 200 to be registered by the first day of school.

An estimated 25 percent of those students will have participated in K-AMP.