MANSFIELD -- The five consortium districts participating in the Striving Readers Grant through Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center -- Buckeye Central Local Schools, Galion City Schools, Highland Local Schools, Plymouth-Shiloh Local Schools and Shelby City Schools -- will participate in "Kindergarten Literacy Boot Camps" in August.
The boot camps are designed for incoming kindergarten students to provide them with a “jump start” on the readiness skills they need to support them through a successful kindergarten experience.
The goals of the kindergarten boot camp are:
● To support the entering kindergarten students socially, emotionally and academically. Boot camp will allow the teachers to engage with their students prior to school beginning and to start building a nurturing relationship easing the children’s fears or anxiety about school.
● To allow the teachers time to assess their students entering skill levels enabling them to plan appropriate instructional strategies to implement when school begins.
● To allow the parents the opportunity to learn more about the expectations for entering kindergarten students, and how they can be involved and supportive at home.
Research reveals that when families are involved in their child’s learning, they perform better in school. Many of the district administrators had commented on the importance of hosting boot camps in the past, but funding was always a barrier.
Thanks to the support from the Striving Readers Grant funding, which covers the personnel costs and supply costs associated with the boot camps, districts are able to offer this valuable experience to their young learners and encourage family engagement.
Mid-Ohio ESC was awarded the $1.2 million grant, which is in its third year of implementation.
The focus has been on serving all students, with an emphasis on those living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners and students identified as having a reading disability. Mid-Ohio ESC was recently notified that their consortium has received a fourth year no-cost extension on the grant, enabling service to more students in the coming year.
Lisa Cook, Mid-Ohio ESC Elementary Literacy Coach, said special arrangements are being made for this year. Cook explained most districts are looking at holding their camps for a week or two before school starts.
“Most of the camps will be half-days. [Because of COVID-19] the districts are discussing the possibility of either hosting a small group of kindergarten students through the month of August, with some students working on-site and others remotely and rotating. Others have discussed providing boot camp support to the students at home and engaging families in supporting readiness skills to prepare their child for kindergarten," Cook siad.
Regardless of the way things develop, said Cook, the districts are prepared to offer on-site, virtual and hybrid options.
“As a former kindergarten teacher,” said Cook, “I am so excited to be a part of planning and helping to support these district boot camps! I know from my years in the classroom that it takes the first month of school to develop a routine, to really get to know your students and their needs, and to form a relationship and bond with them.
"The beauty of these camps is that the teachers will now have a window of opportunity to learn about their students and to prepare strategies to support and ease them into the school year. There is truly no better joy than happy, smiling kindergartners!”
Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center provides specialized academic and support services, including professional development, to 10 school districts and over 17,000 students in Crawford, Morrow and Richland Counties. Client districts receive services from curriculum, gifted and special education consultants, speech pathologists, psychologists, special education teachers, occupational therapists and physical therapists.