These free camps get kids -- and their parents -- ready for kindergarten

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Posted at 7:41 AM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 08:09:03-04

PETERSBURG, Va. - The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg is hosting eight kindergarten countdown camps this summer in schools across Powhatan, Goochland and Dinwiddie.

The expansion of the 2019 pilot program prepares very young children and their parents for kindergarten.

"This summer, it's even more exciting because we were able to offer a face-to-face experience,” said Kindergarten Countdown Camp Director Penny Brooks.

Kindergarten Countdown Camp is a free summer learning program for rising kindergarten students with limited or no preschool experience.

“They're able to be in their school setting,”said Brooks. “Learn the environment, learn how to walk in a line, how to follow directions, how to socially interact."

The kids get breakfast and lunch, a new book each week and a backpack full of school supplies.

The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg said the program will help families and their kids get ready for kindergarten -- especially families who have difficulties finding preschools due to work schedules or finances.

"46% of students, of kids ages 3 and 4, don't have any experience with some of the early childhood education programs," said Jeanine Mowbray of United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg. “We noticed that was a great opportunity for us to step in at United Way, and offer a program that helps get these students ready."

"It's a shock to their little systems," explained Brooks. “They come into a setting where we're telling them when to sit, when to stand, when to speak, when to potty, when to eat. There are so many skills where they're like, 'Wow!' They've never had to do those things."

All families in the camps will receive a free registration to the United Way’s new Ready-4-K Program -- a text service that provides age-appropriate facts, easy tips and opportunities for growth to boost their child’s learning at home.

For families outside of the camp locations, materials from the United Way’s 2020 virtual kindergarten countdown camps are available online.

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