In our service area, 1 in 5 students start kindergarten without the skills necessary to learn and thrive in elementary school. The successful transition to kindergarten is crucial for students as it sets the foundation for their entire educational journey, so those who come unprepared are at a strong disadvantage. These students begin their academic career behind their peers because they lack basic readiness skills. This increases the likelihood of challenges throughout their education, particularly around critical milestones like literacy and high school graduation.
United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg wants to close this opportunity gap. We want to make sure every student starts school ready to learn and succeed. That’s why we run Kindergarten Countdown Camps (KCC).
United Way’s Kindergarten Countdown Camp is a free summer learning program for rising kindergarten students with limited to no preschool experience. Taught by licensed teachers, Kindergarten Countdown Camp prepares students and their parents for a successful start in kindergarten. While at Camp, students receive breakfast and lunch, a new book each week, passes to a museum and a backpack full of school supplies.
The program focuses on basic kindergarten skills like recognizing shapes, letters, counting, writing their name, adjusting to the classroom setting and even riding the school bus. The camp also teaches children important social emotional skills such as following directions and routines, working with peers and expressing emotions.
Kindergarten Countdown Camp also helps parents prepare for this new transition for their child through Parent Events. At the Parent Event, parents learn about school readiness skills, school health requirements and community resources. The Parent Event also provides an opportunity for parents to meet district and school staff to begin the process of creating a strong partnership with their child’s educators.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted to virtual camps for summer 2020. We were excited to once again be welcoming students into the classroom for our 2021 Kindergarten Countdown Camp. All camp classrooms adhere to the school system’s safety policies and precautions.
Students that begin kindergarten without the necessary skills will struggle to read on grade-level, be engaged through school and are less likely to graduate high school on-time. That’s why it’s crucial that we make sure all students start kindergarten ready to learn. Kindergarten Readiness is one of our nine Steps to Success. Click here to learn more.
Each Kindergarten Countdown Camp participant is given two kindergarten readiness assessments: one at the beginning of camp and one at the end. The assessments measure students’ readiness skills and social-emotional skills. Teachers suggest children should be at least “in progress” on these key skills when starting kindergarten. View the data from our Kindergarten Countdown Camp and find out more on how we have helped young children prepare for the school year ahead.
United Way Brings Back In-Person Kindergarten Countdown Camps
Building off the success of its 2019 pilot camp and following a shift to virtual in 2020, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg will host eight Kindergarten Countdown Camps this summer in schools across Powhatan, Goochland and Dinwiddie. The expansion will empower more than 100 young children and their families to succeed in kindergarten this fall.
Over 200 students served
Since our first Kindergarten Countdown Camps in 2019, we have served over 200 students and families through in-person and virtual formats.
Want to host or sponsor a camp?
If you would like to host a Kindergarten Countdown Camp in your area or help fund this initiative, we can’t wait to help you get started.