Many of this year’s Nevis kindergarten students attended this week’s Kinder Camp to get a preview of what to expect when school starts in September.

“Kinder Camp gives the kids the opportunity to meet their teacher and other school staff,” kindergarten teacher Jason Durham said. “It helps alleviate some of that first day anxiety to learn some of the routines and about bus safety and, of course, meet the other children in their classroom.”

Wendy McGillivray-Bjorklund teaches the other section of kindergarten.

“I’m so excited to have the kids back in school and see them face to face,” she said. “The kids were equally excited to be back and to see their friends.”

Durham is starting his 20th year of teaching kindergarten at Nevis. He said this year is more the same than different, in spite of some changes in the schedule and routines due to COVID-19.

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“There were a lot of predictions by parents and teachers about how these young students would adapt to wearing face coverings during the school day,” he said. “I was amazed at how well the kids did. Nobody complained about being hot or wanting to take their mask off. For them, it was just something we do, comparable to wearing your jacket or putting your shoes on. It was so easy.”

Durham said he plans on having his students spend more time outdoors by incorporating learning activities into the outdoor environment when weather permits.

“Change can be difficult, but there are a lot of positive things that have come from this situation,” he said. “The increased focus on health is going to keep kids, staff and family members safer from all types of illnesses.”

He said for kindergarten students being back in a classroom is very important for their learning.

“This is a crucial time in a child’s development and for learning how to interact socially with both kids and adults,” he said. “They’re learning to read social cues and body language, sharing and cooperating, being assertive and being responsible.”

With younger students, Durham said parents can help make the back-to-school transition easier by starting a routine the week before school.

“There are a lot of changes that have come in the past six months,” he said. “Get kids back on board with consistent meal times, getting plenty of sleep and setting expectations for what school day mornings will look like, so it ends up being a smooth transition.”