Free Kindergarten Readiness Camps Now Enrolling!

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Backpack kids

Our class at Cottage Hill is now full; you can place your child on the wait list at this site, or choose a different one – Scotten, Alta Sierra, Deer Creek, Bell Hill, and Union Hill all have room. For online registration click here.

Starting Kindergarten is one of life’s big transitions – for children and for their parents. For children who will be turning five by September 1, this August will see them joining the “big kids” at schools around Nevada County. Parents want their children to be ready for school so that they will enjoy their first year and start on a path toward success. But what does it mean to be “ready” for school?
First 5 Nevada County, a local governmental agency that funds programs that enhance child development in the first five years, surveyed local Kindergarten teachers about the needs they see – what they wish children had more experience with before starting Kindergarten. Sixty-six percent of current Nevada County Kindergarten teachers responded to the survey.
At the top of teachers’ priority list? Social-emotional development. Teachers would like to see children who can use self-control, have the ability to calm themselves down, to wait for something they want, to bounce back after a difficulty. Next on the list is experience with getting along in a group – children who know how to sit at circle time, wait for a turn, form a line, raise their hand to be called on, and follow along with group activities. Teachers would also like to see children have more experience with being read to and learning songs, rhymes and finger plays such as Five Little Monkeys.

Academics make the teachers’ list only after these more basic skills – skills that will enable them to participate in class and learn, to avoid being a disruption. The academic skills teachers would like to see are early literacy skills (such as recognizing some letters, knowing the sounds some letters make, being able to rhyme words, and starting to write their names) and early numeracy skills (such as sorting and matching items, recognizing patterns and shapes).

First 5 conducted a similar survey with Kindergarten teachers three years ago and found much the same priorities – and in response, developed the Step Up to Kindergarten program. Step Up to Kindergarten is a free program to help get children ready for the big step into school. The three-week Kindergarten camp is designed to address teachers’ priorities and help all Nevada County children be ready for school.

Over the past years, the program has grown. This summer, there will be a Step Up to Kindergarten classroom in six different schools – Bell Hill, Scotten, Deer Creek, Alta Sierra, Cottage Hill and Union Hill – but children enrolling in any Kindergarten class in the county are eligible to enroll. Each class has up to sixteen children and each has an experienced early childhood teacher and an aide and takes place in a Kindergarten classroom. Each day begins at 9:00 and ends at noon and includes the kinds of activities typical of a Kindergarten class – circle time, story time, small group work time, calendar time, choice time, snack time, playground time.

Also incorporated are the first six lessons of the social-emotional curriculum, Second Step, which focus on “learning skills” such as listening, focusing attention, using self-talk to help in following directions and asking for what you need. This evidence-based curriculum uses puppets and is very popular with the kids – the puppets make them laugh and help them remember the skills.

Children who participated in Step Up last year showed tremendous growth. Teachers noted changes in an average of eight different skill areas in the children overall; children who had not had any preschool showed growth in an average of over ten different skill areas. All in three-weeks time – young children have an amazing capacity to learn and grow.
This summer, the program will run from July 6 through July 26 and there are spots still available in all classrooms. For more information or to enroll a child, please call Sandi at 530-274-5361 or you can enroll online here.

Enjoy these photos from the Step Up to Kindergarten program in 2013:

Step Up 2013


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