Wardrobe tips aren't part of the curriculum, but 5-year-old Luca Torres of Whitehall needs no such advice.

Dressed in a white-collared shirt and black jacket with a folded paper towel in the breast pocket, Luca is among around 30 children who began an eight-day Kindergarten Boot Camp on July 29 at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 4445 E. Broad St.

"It is super-cool," Luca said July 31 about the camp designed to prepare children for kindergarten.

He might have been slightly overdressed for the occasion -- choosing an outfit that matched those of the Men in Black agents in this summer's latest installment of the movie series -- but he otherwise blended in as students practiced what soon will become daily kindergarten rituals after Whitehall City Schools students begin classes Aug. 28.

The boot camp runs 90 minutes each day, Mondays through Thursdays, for two weeks.

Karen Chrobak, a kindergarten teacher at Kae Avenue Elementary School, leads the camp, accompanied by several library staff members from the Whitehall branch.

"This program sets them up for success," said Chrobak, who is in her fifth year leading the boot camp since the library system began the program in 2015 at targeted branches, including Whitehall.

Kindergarten Boot Camp was introduced as a pilot program in 2015 at the Whitehall and Hilltop branches, said Kathy Shahbodaghi, public-services director for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

The program since has expanded to include four more of the library's 23 branches: Karl Road, Reynoldsburg, Southeast and the Main Library in downtown Columbus.

The six branches were chosen in part based on geography -- in an attempt to have a location near as many customers as possible -- but also on the results of the Ohio Department of Education's kindergarten-readiness assessment, Shahbodaghi said.

"Some students are not prepared to begin to learn to read," she said, and the camp addresses that issue.

"Kindergarten Boot Camp is designed to prepare children academically and socially (but) also establish classroom expectations and school-readiness skills," she said.

Parents are a big part of the boot-camp experience, too.

"It's as much for the parents as it is for the children," Shahbodaghi said.

Between interactive exercises with children July 31, Chrobak instructed parents about extending reading time with their children to lengthen attention spans, as well as preparing children for daily exposure to social settings in which children will be required to wait or take turns.

"Boot camp is a great way to relieve anxiety and build confidence as they approach that first big day of going to school," Chrobak said.

Among the parents at Whitehall's boot camp was Beatriz Quintana, whose 4-year-old daughter, Rosa Rivas, soon will begin kindergarten at Holy Spirit School.

Quintana said she learned about the program from library staff and thought Rosa would benefit from it.

Johanna Hurtado said she also learned about it from library staff and enrolled Luca, her sharply dressed son.

"I think it will help him," she said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo