Kinder Academy's "Brain Gym" helps prep students for kindergarten in Cassville

The Kinder Academy in Cassville is helping five and six-year-old kids excel before entering kindergarten.

The program started at Eunice Thomas Elementary School this school year.

The goal is to make sure that every student is ready to enter kindergarten. One aspect of the program is the "brain gym."

"They like to say we are coming in here to make our brains strong," Teacher Michelle Ramaeker said.

Ramaeker says her class, made up of 15 students, spends about 45 minutes a day in the "brain gym." They swing on the monkey bars, walk on the balance beam, and bounce on the trampoline.

"[These activities are] teaching coordination, balance on the balance beam. They're having spacial awareness not to fall off and the same thing on the trampoline," Ramaeker said.

The students learn skills that carry over into the classroom.

"When they're grabbing a hold [of the bars], they're tracking. So, when we are teaching reading and writing, their eyes are able to better track," Ramaeker said.

However, the brain gym is multi-purpose. It also helps build confidence and strengthen sensory skills. It's all to help students start school on the right foot.

"You've got motor skills, fine motor skills. Students may not be academically challenged, they may be physically, or they may be emotionally or socially immature. And so this just gives them an opportunity to make that transition from preschool to kindergarten, getting them a little more success," Superintendent Richard Asbill said.

Asbill says the program started when teachers saw a need for a bridge between preschool and kindergarten.

"Just giving them a little more time to get it down and have a good, solid foundation," Ramaeker said.

Asbill said it was the collaboration with other districts along with the support of the school and community that helped make the Kinder Academy a reality.

"The Bolivar School District was very helpful," Asbill said. "If we know it's good for kids, it's going to be good for our school, and it's going to be good for our community."

The Kinder Academy has been so successful that there is already a waiting list to get in. Asbill says they hope to expand the program even into first and second grades.