Kindergarteners in Cedar Rapids prepare for upcoming school year

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG TV9)-- Entering school doors for the first time can be daunting.

But there’s no more nerves for incoming kindergarteners at Garfield Elementary in Cedar Rapids. Students there had two weeks to acclimate to their new environment, through a new program called "Kick-Off to Kindergarten."

"They know where the restroom is, where the cafeteria is and the playground is, even if they still call the park,” Joan Boche said.

This is Ms. Boche's 17th year teaching Kindergarten at Garfield Elementary. She says the camp also gives her an earlier chance to assess her students.

"Finding out if they can count, if they know their abc's can they write their name, and even doing some phonemic exercises with rhyming and beginning letter sounds."

The kids are often split into two classrooms. Friday, they worked on spelling.

Five-year-old LaZarion Vaughn is proud he now knows how to write his name.

"L-A-Z-A-R-I-O-N,” he said.

Ms. Boche says how well students get a hold of these lessons will help educators place students in classrooms.

"So that kids that need more help will have help all around them. And those higher accelerators can be good role models for the rest of the class,” she said.

Making for a successful school year ahead. Already these kiddos say they're excited.

"Getting to know what class I'm going to be in,” Arabella Koffron said.

"Kick-Off to Kindergarten” is funded by a grant through the United Way.