Four-day camp introduces kids to school before the 'big day'

Incoming kindergartners who will attend Tobias Elementary School in Aloha got a sneak peek earlier this month at what school is all about.

Oregon students entering kindergarten this fall will be the first class to have full instructional days.

A grant from the Richard B. Siegel Foundation and the Hillsboro Schools Foundation paid for kindergarten teacher Jenice Herzog to give her students a bit of a preview of the fun and learning that lies ahead when they arrive for their first day of school next month.

Statewide assessments of last year’s kindergartners indicate that pre-school aged children in Hillsboro lag the state in school readiness.

According to the 2015 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment overview by the Oregon Department of Education, “the results of the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment provide a snapshot of selected early literacy, early math, and approaches to learning skills that Oregon students can demonstrate at kindergarten entry.”

In Hillsboro, students entering kindergarten in 2014 scored slightly lower than the state average in math readiness and letter recognition. Hispanic students scored significant lower in both categories.

The Tobias Kindergarten Camp held last week will help students narrow that gap.

During the four-day, hour-long camp, students met their teachers and got familiar with their classroom, playground, cafeteria, gymnasium and library.

Helping the kids feel comfortable and excited about school is key, said Herzog. Time saved when kids already know how to line up, move safely through the school, take turns, listen to a story and follow directions will equate to more time for meaningful instruction from day one, she added.

“Ultimately, the camp will prepare our 5-year-old students for the beginning of school, promote school spirit, and reduce anxiety so students will be excited yet learning-focused from the beginning of the school year,” Herzog said.

Routines established

“With first day jitters behind them and familiarity with teachers and school routines already established, these students will be able to hit the ground running on day one,” said Aron Carleson, executive director of Hillsboro Schools Foundation.

“HSF supporters know that early investments in education will pay large dividends in academic success throughout the child’s life.”

At the end of the camp, each student was sent home with a backpack silk-screened by volunteers, with school supplies, alphabet and number activities, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) project, a book and ideas for parents to improve kindergarten readiness.

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