United Way of Northern Arizona update for May 3 — Getting Ready for KinderCamp 2019

| May 6, 2019

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In about a month, hundreds of Pre-K children will be participating in one of United Way of Northern Arizona’s signature initiatives, a program that ensures that youngsters entering kindergarten this fall are academically, emotionally and socially prepared to begin their school careers.
 
For 15 years, UWNA and its community partners have offered KinderCamp™ as a way of leveling the playing field for those who have not had the opportunity to attend preschool. The initiative was first launched in 2005 after a survey identified early childhood learning as a major issue of concern. 
 
“Because 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5, high-quality learning experiences are critical for the development of the skills that help a child transition to kindergarten and experience success in school,” said Paul Kulpinski, Launch Flagstaff Director. “We know there is a severe lack of equitable access to high-quality preschool programs in Northern Arizona. KinderCamp can help children with little preschool experience develop a greater likelihood of successfully transitioning to kindergarten in the fall.”
 
The children will focus math and pre-reading skills, such as letter identification and phonics, said Sara Owen, the coordinator for the KinderCamp program in Flagstaff. They will also learn a little about social studies or science, depending on the expertise of the teacher who is their KinderCamp instructor. 
 
Outside educators are also brought in, such as the “tooth fairy” from Coconino County’s Public Health Services District, who explains the importance of brushing, flossing and good oral health.
 
Equally important is the emotional and social education that goes into the four-week program, which helps students cope with separation anxiety, become comfortable taking the school bus and learn to make new friends.
 

“What’s great about KinderCamp is it really gives a glance into what kindergarten and going to school is like,” said Owen. “They don’t see it as work, but as a fun experience. We cultivate a classroom environment where it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. The kids have a blast and express a love of learning before the first day of school really starts.”

The program culminates with a “bridging over” ceremony, the first graduation these youngsters will have in their academic careers.   

 
Over the years, UWNA has been able to grow the program from Flagstaff into Williams, Winslow, Page and Lakeside in Navajo County. 
 
In all of the programs, the KinderCamp teachers try to meet with the child’s parent or caregiver in the home. 
 
“We want to make that home and school connection,” said Owen. “We are the first teacher they are working with, so it’s really important to have that face-to-face meeting and make that first impression so they know we really care about their child.”
 
For the kids, she added, the meeting is more about the thrill of having a teacher visit them.
 
“They get so excited to have you in their house,” she laughed. “They want to show you everything – their room and their toys and their dogs.”
United Way of Northern Arizona
1515 E. Cedar Ave. | Suite D-1 | Flagstaff, AZ 86004
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Category: Education, Educational Opportunities, Events, Programs

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