GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Walk into any kindergarten class the first day of school and you're likely to see crayons,lunch boxes and a lot of tears. Last year the Gulfport School District came up with a plan to make the adjustment to school life a little easier. Teachers at West Elementary said it's working.
After 23 years of teaching, Cathy Floyd said she's seen how the first day of kindergarten class usually starts off.
"They were coming to a strange place. They had separation anxiety, and we had a lot of crying," said Floyd.
All Gulfport elementary schools spent this week introducing incoming kindergartners to the classroom at Rise and Shine Kindergarten Camp. After the first camp was held last year, teachers said the activities made a huge difference in making children feel more comfortable once school started.
Floyd said, "They're more familiar with our routines so they are able to show other children some of the things they were taught during our camp. That makes it a lot easier. Things fall into place more smoothly, and we do get to the teaching much faster."
Kindergarten teachers take students on a tour of the building, introduce them to staff, and teach them the rules of how to behave in class, in the halls and in the cafeteria. The little ones also get to know each other.
"They are allowed to make friends with other students. So when they come, they've made a friend," said Floyd,. "They're coming not only to a place that they know but they're coming to friends that they know. That helps them a whole lot."
Right now, the children just see this as a new adventure.
"We always play outside and we always have fun," said Charity Magee, a new student. "We always eat lunch and we have popsicles sometimes."
Teachers said kindergarten can also be a big adjustment for parents. So the camp allows parents to meet teachers and see what their children will be doing when school starts August 4th.