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School Practices That Work: Readiness Programs Prepare Students to Succeed in Kindergarten

The first few weeks of kindergarten can be a transformative period for young students.  The daily routine and structure in kindergarten may be a completely new experience, and socializing with peers and forming new friendships can also present challenges as kids learn to navigate social dynamics, sharing, and cooperating with others.  

However, adapting to the demands of the classroom and responding to the guidance of teachers is a significant developmental milestone for these young learners.  That’s why some schools across the city take steps to help students prepare for the transition by hosting summer kindergarten readiness camps.  The camps provide students an opportunity to build foundational literacy, social and emotional skills, interact with their teachers and peers, and adjust to the formal structure of school.

Elevate 215 visited the kindergarten readiness camp at Mastery Charter Schools Cleveland campus over the summer and it was evident the impact the program had on their students.  The overarching objective of the camp was to identify each child’s academic strengths and areas for improvement to find the most appropriate programming for their needs. 

At the readiness camp, students were exposed to a curriculum focused on essential learning practices such as phonological awareness, phonics, and reading in connected text.  Additionally, the camp emphasized the importance of making friends through encouraging social interaction and cooperation. 

The camp received high praise from parents, who were delighted to see their children catching on quickly to letter sounds, indicating the program’s success in fostering early phonological awareness.

“Having my son come every week knowing new letter sounds was really exciting,” shared new parent Ms. Faison, “and I knew that he was well on his way to being prepared for the upcoming school year.”

Parents also noted how their little ones were gradually getting used to the classroom environment and had a newfound sense of belonging and friendship that would transfer into the school year.

“At the beginning of the program, my son was very emotional when I dropped him off,” added another parent, Mr. Boyd. “And after a few days, I could tell that he was getting used to it and would not have to face that challenge in the fall.”

The camp provides a platform for building relationships with peers, eliminating any sense of isolation or the feeling of being alone that many students experience when starting at new schools.  Moreover, parents were thrilled to witness their children actively sharing at home all the new knowledge and skills they acquired at the camp. 

Beyond the social and emotional development, students also experienced academic progress.  Data shared by school leaders, looking at results from tests administered at the beginning and end of the program, show that upon completion of the program every student knew at least 15 letter sounds, whereas many students knew just two to three letter sounds when they began.

Mastery Charter School Cleveland Campus is just one example of how targeted programming can prepare students for new educational experiences and build a foundation that can lead to academic success.  Other examples include the Kindergarten Readiness Experience, a free program from the Please Touch Museum that prepares kids for what kindergarten will “feel like, look like and sound like,” and Drexel’s Kindergarten Bridge Program.

While this intervention may seem simple, this head start can be a game changer for student confidence and skill building early in their academic career.  Let’s continue to elevate these programs, the intentionality behind the problem they’re trying to solve, and help expand their offerings to make them the norm for students across our city.