By Amy Newcomb (USAG Grafenwoehr)September 15, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - The kindergarten boot camp program was initiated to ready new students and parents for kindergarten prior to starting school.
According to Lana Muzzy, outreach services director, the inspiration for kindergarten boot camp came from the Department of the Army's Army Family Covenant program.
"(USAG Grafenwoehr) is being used as the pilot program to see if it will be successful. We are doing this for the first time in the entire Child and Youth Services history," Muzzy said.
"It's a new initiative and if we have good results it means we will increase our enrollment for next year," she said.
Rose Barracks and Netzaberg School Age Services had approximately 14 kindergartener's enrolled from the community for boot camp. When added with the kindergartners from the child development center who have been enrolled in the Strong Beginnings Program over the last year in preparation for kindergarten, the attendance for kindergarten Boot Camp was more than 30.
It took a great deal of teamwork to implement the program for USAG Grafenwoehr and was a joint effort between SAS, CDC, Outreach Services Program and the School Liaison Officer, Anne Bruennig.
"CYS has a Strong Beginnings Program at the CDCs and it is a half day program. The Boot Camp we have is just a week right before school begins to get those kids who weren't able to attend the Strong Beginnings for the whole year and give them some basic skills for kindergarten," Bruennig said.
Over the course of the four-day kindergarten boot camp, the participants had the opportunity to visit the school library and cafeteria and meet the school advisor and nurse. They were also educated on bus etiquette and how to walk in straight lines.
"We are teaching the kids how to write their names, how to recognize their names ... some basic school skills like raising their hands when they have a question, walking in lines quietly and transitioning from one activity to the next," Bruennig said.
Katie Kuether, a kindergarten boot camp teacher at the Rose Barracks SAS, thought the program was a success.
"They felt kind of scared and timid at first but by the end of boot camp they were running around thinking they owned the place ... very comfortable and ready for kindergarten," Kuether said. "I think it definitely opened their eyes and made them realize what they are going to have to do ... by the end of the week they realized they would have to sit down and do work so I think it really got them in the swing of things."
Amber Goble had her son, Jonathan attend kindergarten boot camp at the Rose Barracks SAS. With Jonathan being her first child to attend school, this was a new and disconcerting experience for both mother and son, she said
"We're hoping that it will ease his nerves the first day of school so that he will know what to expect in the classroom and the cafeteria, this way he won't be so nervous," Goble said.
After four days of camp, Goble and her son were ready for kindergarten. "He is not nearly as anxious, he was very excited that he got to see his classroom and now he is ready to start kindergarten," Goble said.