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Boot camps for tots: Kindergarten orientation provides a head start

September 5, 2017
Moriah Balingit
The Washington Post

One day in August, 16 squirmy youngsters at Alexandria’s Douglas MacArthur Elementary School made their way down an empty hallway, some moving haltingly, some running their fingers along the walls.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to walk quietly to breakfast,” their teacher, Anthony Jackson, bellowed. “I like what I’m seeing today! Good job!”

It was the third day of Kindergarten Prep, a half-day program intended to prepare 4- and 5-year-olds for their inaugural year at the Virginia school. Jackson hoped the children would learn the basic rhythms of the school day and the basic rules of the classroom: Raise your hand when you want to speak, ask the teacher if you need to go to the bathroom, never be afraid to ask for help.

Across the nation, about 3.8 million children will start kindergarten at public schools this fall, some entering classrooms for the first time. In an era when kindergarten is chock full of academic rigor, it can be a moment rife with stress: busy hallways, peculiar routines, unfamiliar faces and long stretches of activity without nap time.