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 Rhonda Galvan, one of the teachers participating in Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC).
What is your role at the camp?
What benefits does Kindergarten Countdown Camp have for the children that attend?
Kindergarten Countdown Camp provides significant benefits to students who are able to attend and their families. It prepares them to begin kindergarten with some experience. Most of our KCC students have very little exposure to a school environment. At KCC, we introduce them to structure and school routines. In addition, children learn to hold a pencil and scissors, identify their name, and begin to learn letters and numbers. This experience is a real “jump start” to their whole education.
Why is it important for children to be on track and ready to learn when first starting kindergarten?
In kindergarten, we have rigorous learning standards. Students are expected to finish the year knowing how to read and write. Those children who have not had the opportunity to attend a preschool program and are not prepared for kindergarten are at a disadvantage, as compared to the children who have. They do not understand the expectations as a learner in a school environment. A great deal of time must be spent helping them to catch up to their peers before academic content can be introduced.
What obstacles and challenges do children and families in our community face that prevent children from being prepared for kindergarten?
The greatest obstacle that families and children in our community face is not having access to affordable preschool programs. Many preschool-aged children spend time with a babysitter prior to beginning school. They are not exposed to a structured environment that supports learning and therefore prevents these children from being prepared for the school year.
How does Kindergarten Countdown Camp help prepare children for success in school?
Kindergarten Countdown Camp provides exposure to a school environment that helps the children successfully transition into a kindergarten class. It helps them begin to develop learning skills such as holding a pencil, following directions, and engaging in conversations. It also gives children a chance to experience separation from their families. Many children have not been away from their homes and parents for any length of time. KCC provides a safe environment for them to discover the excitement of going to school.
What does education mean to you?
To me, education means opportunity. It opens doors for obtaining goals and following one’s dreams. Providing education to our children prepares them to become responsible citizens who will one day take over the roles now held by adults. Education empowers us to make changes where changes are needed. Without education, anyone’s future is limited.
To support more programs, like Kindergarten Countdown Camp, visit www.LIVEUNITEDlakecounty.org/give.