CYS Services boot camp eases transition to kindergarten

Get ready. Get set. Go kindergarten! Child, Youth and School Services’ Kinder Boot Camp helped 13 kindergarten-bound children get ready for their first day of school.

Starting kindergarten is a major developmental milestone and can create apprehension in children and parents, according to Keith Herman, a University of Missouri expert. Herman recommends that the parents and child visit the school and classroom before the first day. The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Kinder Boot Camp takes that idea a couple of steps further.

The kindergarten readiness program, held from Aug. 27 to 30 at the child development centers on Kelley and Patch Barracks, and Panzer Kaserne, sought to ease the transition into the classroom setting before school started on Sept. 4, according to Laura Dills, the Panzer Child Development Center facility director.
To be eligible for the free CYS Services-sponsored “camp,” children needed to be 5 by Sept. 1, be kindergarten-bound and have not participated in Strong Beginnings, CYS Services’ pre-kindergarten program. Many of the participants had recently moved from the States or from other overseas locations. “It was decided to really try to target those kids who are brand new to the community, so that they have an opportunity to meet some new friends and get ready for the next big change — school,” Dills said. Kinder Boot Camp was designed to minimize any anxiety by introducing the students to the classroom and a new routine in ways that were “not intimidating or scary,” said Dills.

The “campers” attended a mock kindergarten for four days, complete with circle time, writing lessons, small group activities and outside play, said Natalie McKenna, a Panzer CDC supervisory program specialist.Students also toured their perspective schools. The Panzer boot camp participants toured the Böblingen Elementary/Middle School on Aug. 28, led by BEMS Guidance Counselor Helen Hitchcock. Hitchcock showed the children the gym, music and art rooms, nurse’s office and their classrooms during the tour. In the cafeteria, Hitchcock explained to the children how they will get their lunches. Thanks to Kinder Boot Camp, the future BEMS students were more enthusiastic than anxious. “The kids are excited to come to kindergarten,” Hitchcock said.