Garvin to offer accelerated summer pre-K

Garvin to offer accelerated summer pre-K

Garvin Elementary School kindergarten teachers Stephanie Menard, Jamie Sutherland and Gina Palazzo-Campopiano will teach a free, two-week summer program to help prepare children in Garvin’s district for kindergarten. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

CUMBERLAND – For the second year, Garvin Elementary School will offer its free Kindergarten Kick Start program this summer to help prepare students for kindergarten.

The program is for students in the Garvin district who lack prior school experience, exposing them to the classroom environment to make for a smooth transition to kindergarten in the fall.

“Some years up to half of our kids have not had preschool experience,” said Garvin Principal Judith Bassignani. Last year, 48 percent of the incoming kindergarten class had never stepped foot in a classroom. Many of the students had, up until this point, stayed home with a parent.

“Stephanie (Menard) and I got together and knew we needed to do something to help the community,” said kindergarten teacher Gina Palazzo-Campopiano, who will teach in the summer program alongside fellow kindergarten educators Menard and Jamie Sutherland. “The program was a huge success last year. We had students in the summer who came in crying and couldn’t leave mom and dad … when they came back to us in the fall a lot of those anxieties had gone away.”

The educators said the differences between children with pre-k experience and those without are drastic.

“They’re sometimes not able to hold a pencil, to write or identify their name. They’re really on two ends of the spectrum,” said Menard.

“They lose out on a lot of skills, including the social component,” said Bassignani. “It’s really important for them to be around other kids their age who are not siblings.”

The kindergarten teachers said the greatest challenge for the incoming students is socializing, including learning to share and appropriately engage with other children. The program is designed to help the young students acclimate.

It will run for two weeks, Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. from July 30 to Aug 10. During that time, participating students will work on oral language skills, alphabetic code and print knowledge and concepts, as well as skills for social and emotional growth.