School is out and summer is here, but that does not stop students from learning. Incoming kindergartners jump-start their education by taking part in the United Way of Porter County Kinder Camp program sponsored by ArcelorMittal.
The Kinder Camp supplies the basic skills and learning essentials to incoming kindergartners, while still enabling the students to have fun and enjoy their time at camp. The program introduces kids to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). United Way works with Portage, Valparaiso, Duneland and Hebron school districts to host the program during their summer school session.
United Way and ArcelorMittal team members recently visited the Portage Kinder Camp program at Aylesworth Elementary to watch the kids learn.
“ArcelorMittal is pleased to support the Porter County School Readiness Program and Kinder Camp. This early childhood initiative offers a year-round learning STEAM experience that is beneficial for area youth,” said Jolice Pojeta, Corporate Responsibility and Communications Manager at ArcelorMittal. “Such a program proves it’s never too early for young students to begin developing critical social and learning skills that will help shape their future education and careers.”
Throughout the morning, students worked through different stations and activities learning how to work with others while solving challenges and brain busters. They experienced all sorts of games and projects such as building marble tracks and working with Hexbugs, a micro-robot creature that moves by vibration and changes direction when it encounters obstacles.
In Indiana, kids are not required to attend school until age 7, but Kinder Camp grants them the chance to build crucial skills early.
“It’s building and playing, they discover new things and learn how to be students,” said Janet Cantrell, one of the Portage Kinder Camp teachers. “It’s very essential for these kids to interact and learn together, these kids don’t play with blocks and other toys nowadays and this camp gives them a great opportunity to experience that.”
Those social and behavioral traits are often called “soft skills.” For the kids getting ready for kindergarten, Kinder Camp is just as much about understanding how to learn as it is about building academic skills.
For United Way, Kinder Camp is another critical way for them to help underserved members of the community. Other options are not always available for parents looking to prepare their children for school.
“This camp is very important to the community and students, not every parent can afford preschool. The children ride the bus, learn social manners, and are taught skills that lay the ground work for learning in the fall,” said Kim Olesker, President and CEO of United Way of Porter County. “The program is designed to get kids excited about school and STEAM subjects at a young age.”