Kindergarten Boot Camp
CHARLOTTE. N.C. - From two to five years old, a small group of tiny soldiers is learning the basics to get them ready for kindergarten - or help them through it.
"When we start our exercises, we are going to count out loud! Say 'yes ma'am!' That is the instruction from Marlaina Williford. She is the drill sergeant / director for kindergarten boot camp at the Little Angels Learning Academy. The fatigues she wears are a prop (she has no military experience) but before this, Williford did work at the Mecklenburg County jail as a detention officer. She says, "It is the same thing!" It's her experience with criminals that makes Williford want to instill manners, respect and discipline at a young age. She says kids, when taught early enough, respond well to the uniform and authority. "We want to catch them a little earlier, and get them into a programmed habit, 'Hey, this is how I act in a certain situation,' “ explains Williford.
The editor of Charlotte Parent magazine tells FOX Charlotte "Kindergarten preparedness is always a good idea. Children today are faced with rigorous education and testing standards, with expectations set high."
While the kids in boot camp are too young to know what the word “discipline” means, they are disciplined in their routines and behavior and they like it! One little girl says, "My favorite part is when she tells us what to do and we say 'yes ma'am!' "
Williford says she makes quick progress with the kids in her camp, but that it's up to parents to do their part at home. Kindergarten boot camp is once a week for six weeks. It costs $10 per session. Williford feels so strongly about instilling respect in children, she hopes to eventually offer the camp for free.