CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Officials say 48 Pre-K students in the Chambersburg Area School District are hitting the books early through a new Kindergarten Academy.

"Last year as we looked at the Kindergarten population and many of them were missing the social skills needed, as well as some of the basic academic background, so when you have children that come in and have a deficit and they don't make the transition as well," said Gladys Leon, director of early child education, Chambersburg Area School District.

Students are selected through the school district for the free Kindergarten academy that teaches them practical ways of learning basic Kindergarten lessons.

"They have reading which is basically readers that have small high frequency words that you will probably see the rest of their lives written; they do math investigations, which is a program where they are actually have experiences and they are doing math based on those experiences," said Leon.

"I think it will be wonderful for them because it starts them before the kindergarten program and teaches them a lot of the basics their going to need to know when they get into kindergarten," said Heidi Miller, mother of a child in the program.

The program teaches its students three different subjects of math, reading and writing but it also includes a social skills component that school officials say is very important for their growing kindergarten population.

"Yes, we identified those students who had deficits but we have parents come forth and say my child has been in the baby-sitter with two other children and they don't have social skills; can they come," said Leon. "So we have students here as well who are just coming for their social skills and their doing just fantastic."

In the first week, parents say they're seeing a change in their children.

"So I think this program benefiting her a lot because I noticed a difference, she always knows how to draw over her letters and numbers and everything, from just starting it four days ago," said Miller.

School officials say with a 15 to one student-teacher ratio, the five week program will help students with their education, and boost their confidence coming into the new school year.

The program is Title 1 sponsored and is held at Ben Chambers Elementary School.

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