Over 110 rising kindergarteners started their school experience a few weeks early this year in the Chatham County Schools (CCS). This summer, CCS offered a free 3-week, half day program, the OnTrack Kindergarten Readiness Camp.
Thanks to a strong partnership with the Chatham Education Foundation and their donors, The Oak Foundation and the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, students came to LEARN. MOVE. GROW! And that they did.
CEF, CCS and their Chatham Reads’ partners believe they can address a significant factor that plays into the socioeconomic education gap, school readiness. Research shows that only 53% of students entering CCS in kindergarten are prepared with basic literacy skills.
As you can imagine, entering kindergarten without previously attending a formal education setting (preschool) can be a daunting task for many 5 year olds. This camp is designed to address this challenge by providing students with the opportunity to experience school, practice class routines and begin their learning a few weeks ahead of officially entering kindergarten.
Registration for the OnTrack camp began in the spring and the planning even earlier. For six months prior to the camp, a team of skilled teachers and curriculum coaches diligently structured the camp for consistency across the schools and the classrooms. Curriculum focused on social/emotional learning, early literacy skills and early math skills.
Each classroom had a lead teacher and an instructional assistant, dedicated to transitioning children from home to public school. Bus transportation was provided as well as a free breakfast and lunch.
Students grew in all aspects of the curriculum and teachers reflected that 77% of students were “more ready for kindergarten” than when they started the camp. Parent nights were held in order to develop parent engagement: content included program introductions, camp goals, and educational resources about how to help students at home.
“As a community, we are dedicated to having 80% of Chatham County School (CCS) 3rd grade students reading on grade level by 2022. The bottom line is, reading proficiently by the third grade predicts high school and future success! If a child is not reading on grade level by the end of third grade, they are FOUR times more likely to dropout of school’” says CEF Director Jaime Detzi.