Here at United Way, we are fortunate to work with some of the most service-oriented, internally-driven and compassionate people in the community. Today, we’d like to spotlight Susie Feldman, one of the teachers participating in Kindergarten Countdown Camp.
Pictured above is Susie with her students during a Kindergarten Countdown Camp.
What is your role at the camp?
What benefits does Kindergarten Countdown Camp have for the children that attend?
For the past two summers I have participated in United Way’s Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC). The students who attended KCC were able to have their first school experience prior to kindergarten. Each week a group of United Way volunteers comes to read with a small group and help each individual with an educational project. One of my KCC students was in my classroom this past school year. I saw first hand the benefit of KCC as she adapted to the new school year better than her peers. This student also had a boost to her self-confidence, as she was able to help her classmates in their new experiences. Throughout the year, this student repeatedly referred back to “camp” and what she had learned.
Kindergarten expectations have dramatically changed over the years. The students now have tremendous academic expectations. These expectations are not just new to the students but to their families as well. For students to reach their potential in kindergarten, their families play a key role. Teachers need the families to be their partner in their child’s education. KCC educates the families in what their child will be learning, how to work with their student, and school procedures. Furthermore, KCC provides families an early opportunity to form a connection to kindergarten, their school, and the district.
Why is it important for children to be on track and ready to learn when first starting kindergarten?
The early years of education are the most important as they lay the foundation for lifelong learning. Students who enter kindergarten on track and ready to learn adapt quickly to their new academic and social expectations. From the first day of kindergarten, learning begins and moves quickly. Students who are ready from day one have a much easier transition in the classroom and throughout the school. In addition, these students already have a foundation to begin their exciting journey in kindergarten!
What obstacles and challenges do children and families in our community face that prevent children from being prepared for kindergarten?
Prior to kindergarten, the majority of my students have never had any academic or social experience. When most of my students enter kindergarten, they are not able to identify the name of single letter or a letter sound. They also have not learned to write their names or a single letter. They also are not able to identify numbers or count. Students quite often may not have a single pencil or any school supplies at home. Families may face challenges such as not having the language, education, or time due to work, to help support their children’s education-though they would wish they could.
How does Kindergarten Countdown Camp help prepare children for success in school?
Students who participated in KCC were able to have the benefit of early social and academic learning. KCC provides a successful first school experience prior to kindergarten. Early intervention programs provided by United Way, such as Kindergarten Countdown Camp, are an important component in our young learner’s education.
What does education mean to you?
Though each of us has some sort of talent, we don’t all have the same opportunities. Having an education affords many people opportunities they may not have otherwise been able to achieve. We do not know who our may be our future President or who will find the cure for Cancer, Parkinson’s or any disease. Maybe that person is in one of our kindergarten classrooms. With the support of United Way’s early intervention educational programs such as KCC the opportunities for our children are endless.
To support more programs, like Kindergarten Countdown Camp, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org/give.