Enhancing success

Incoming Muncy kindergarteners take part in summer program

SETH NOLAN/Sun-Gazette Kindergarten teachers Anne Johnson, right, and Rae Pitchford, left, work with students involved in the summer readiness program.

MUNCY — Even though school’s out, the classrooms, playgrounds and fields of Ward L. Myers Elementary School are full of students taking advantage of a few of the unique opportunities available to the Muncy area in the early summer months.

Launched last year, the summer readiness program enhances the likelihood of students to be successful in their kindergarten year, said Frank R. Jankowski, principal.

“The stronger you start, the more likely you are to be more successful,” Jankowski said. “This is a nice platform for these kids to start their education career.”

The program was held from 8:30-11:30 a.m. four days a week for three weeks in early June.

The 20 students worked on a lot of different things, all to give them exposure as to what they’ll be learning when they start in August.

“What we work on has a strong focus on what the kids will be learning in the first two months of regular school,” Anne Johnson, kindergarten teacher, said. “There’s a lot of research out there that supports that this sort of preview builds confidence and helps ease the anxiety of starting out.”

Students work through letters, a lot of reading comprehension and interactive math exercises on classroom tablets.

But fine motor skills like cutting, gluing and gripping a pencil — or simply what to expect in a normal day in kindergarten — are added bonuses.

“The focus is on academics, but we also work with them on how to follow rules and what an average day will look like,” said Rae Pitchford, teacher.

To keep them going throughout the summer, the team of teachers gives the students four books to read over the rest of the summer.

Research shows that students who read over the summer have less of a drop in what they learn, Pitchford said.

Aside from those significant tangible skills students receive from the program are the innate eases just by being with the teachers ahead of the regular session.

“This program really helps with the first day jitters,” Anne Johnson said. “It’s a chance to get to know the staff, but we also get to know the students.”

Through working with some of the students during the three weeks, the team gets insight into each of their individual learning styles and shows the team how they can better help each student when they come in for the beginning of the year, teacher Wendy Watts said.

“And it’s interesting what we’ve seen with the kids in this program,” Johnson said. “Many of them become leaders in their homerooms during the year.”

Right next door, older Muncy area students are out playing and socializing as part of a summer camp held on the grounds of the school.

The Muncy Summer Recreation Program isn’t affiliated with the school district, but hosts an average of 120 of the area students a summer — and has been for more than 40 years.

The camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday for seven weeks from early June, said the director Serena Johnson.

“It’s here to keep kids active throughout the summer,” she said.

The kids have access to the gym, some of the classrooms, the playgrounds and the fields.

Students who have completed kindergarten up until kids who have completed sixth grade can take part in the camp.

“It’s awesome because it’s free for the kids here in Muncy,” Serena Johnson said. “There isn’t an opportunity like this in a lot of places.”