LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Annika Reyes just turned four years old, but her mom is already thinking ahead to Kindergarten.
“I’m still shopping around, but I will definitely put her in a private school that’s for sure,” she says.
In a city known for lengthy wait lists and $25,000-plus annual tuition to get into those private schools, some Los Angeles parents have turned to Kinder Prep, a week-long boot camp to get 3- to 5-year-olds ready for their first year of elementary school.
“I remember a Kindergarten class that was all about play and today, that has changed,” said Elizabeth Fraley, who runs the camp. “There’s just a lot more demands on the students.”
A typical day starts with the children practicing their fine motor skills writing in a notebook filled with family photos. Then they move on to circle time, where Fraley reads a book and is careful to engage the kids and ask questions.
Then it’s on to an art project. All of the assistants have Master’s degrees in education, according to Fraley. They ask students about their color choices.
Next, it’s time for the kids to practice walking in a straight line to the indoor classrooms, where they work on their writing and math.
What would she say to critics who suggest an educational boot camp for kids is all a bit much?
“It’s being done in a way that’s developmentally appropriate,” says Fraley. “Every 10-15 minutes we switch the activity.”
And it’s not just Westside parents signing up for the camp: Kinder Prep has had clients from all over the world, including Indonesia, China, and France.
And many of those families are signing up for several weeks at a time, plus additional one-on-one sessions that cost up to $200 an hour.
Reyes said that after two weeks of Kinder Prep, she found her daughter to be more confident. And she says, her daughter had a good time, as well.
“That’s why I don’t feel like I’m pressuring my kid,” she said, “it’s a very comfortable setting.”