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K-Camp aims to ease start of school year, calm nerves

GRAYSON - For six of the nine rising kindergartners in Deb Mercier's K-Camp class, the thought of kindergarten conjures excitement, as conveyed by the chart Mercier and her summer class created graphing their emotions.

Three expressed a feeling of nervousness about the impending start of school, but the majority voiced eager anticipation.

K-Camp, a three-day kindergarten camp held at Trip Elementary in Grayson, hosted its inaugural group of 31 students Wednesday. Trip Elementary principal Marci Resnick worked with assistant principal Dr. Virin Vedder and four kindergarten teachers to develop plans for a kindergarten camp beginning with the school's first year in 2008. The motivation was to "jump start the kindergartners and parental involvement at home," while preparing students for a new experience.

"We don't want students to feel overwhelmed in August," Resnick said. "We want them to be accustomed to being away from mom and dad. The activities are things that are AKS-related but also fun to get the students excited."

Each day follows a packed schedule of reading aloud to promote literacy, recess, craft-making and a math-related activity which.

"Students can build things, play with things, which shows that math can be fun," Resnick said. "It's not just the traditional pencil and paper."

Teachers at the program cite the Grayson Math Institute, held at Trip, as part of the inspiration for developing new activities to incorporate literacy, math and graphing into a creative activity.

Mercier, a kindergarten and K-Camp teacher, believed that introducing soon-to-be kindergartners to school would help acclimate the students to their surroundings before school officially began.

"I think it's a great thing for children to do to actually pivot into kindergarten," Mercier said, "and it kind of gives them a jump on things when they first start. If they've been to kindergarten camp, they have a bit of a taste of what it's going to be like."

Rising kindergartner Brodey Conn, who was in teacher Christie Stewart's K-class, was eager to start kindergarten, but he felt anxious about the experience.

"I'm nervous about meeting new friends, and I'm nervous about growing up," Brodey said. He said kindergarten camp has made him "a little" less nervous about starting in August.

Classmate Emily Knight agreed. "I'm excited and nervous," said Emily, "but I'm nervous more."

Resnick estimated that one-third of Trip's incoming kindergarten class participated in kindergarten camp. The cost for three days was $60, with activities beginning at 9:15 a.m. and lasting until noon. Resnick expects the program to return next summer.