Ferndale School District Jump Start Kindergarten Program Provides Valuable Preschool Option

Ferndale Schools Jump Start Kindergarten Graphic

In Ferndale, we want our schools to provide a great start to every student’s future, and Jump Start Kindergarten – an early school readiness program – is playing an important role in achieving this goal.

The Ferndale School District is continuing to expand its Jump Start Kindergarten program. For the first time this year, we will be offering a full spring semester program, which will begin January 30, 2019 and run through June 11, 2019. Jump Start originally began in the district in 2012 as a summer-only program and transitioned to a full-day program in April of the last academic year.

“We are excited about Jump Start Kindergarten in Ferndale because it makes it possible for more of our students to start Kindergarten ready to take full advantage of classroom learning opportunities,” Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn said. “We want Ferndale Schools to be a great start to every student’s future. Jump Start gets us closer to that goal.”

Taught five days per week by certified teachers and support personnel with transportation provided, the program is designed for eligible incoming 2019-20 kindergarten students who are not currently enrolled in a preschool program.

Program History in the Ferndale School District

“Jump Start began because we learned that, although some children are able to attend preschool in our community, some children are not able to attend due to various reasons including but not limited to finances, transportation and more,” said Rachel Bowlden, Family Community Coordinator at the North Bellingham Learning Center. “Jump Start is a program that is built to help bridge the gap for those who are not able to attend preschool.”

The program works in collaboration with other preschool options in the community – not competing with other programs, but rather presenting a kindergarten readiness option for preschool-aged children who are not already enrolled elsewhere.

Though Jump Start is offering a full semester session starting in January, the summer program will also continue to operate, so students participating in both sessions can gain close to a full year of instruction prior to kindergarten.

Custer Elementary Principal Kim Hawes has previously served as Director of Early Learning in the district and continues to be involved with the program’s planning. Hawes has observed its success in providing children valuable exposure to an educational setting in preparation for kindergarten.

“In the first spring program (in 2017), we had an amazing group of staff members who worked diligently to plan and prepare our youngest learners for kindergarten,” Hawes said. “Most of our students had no formal education experience coming into Jump Start. They met new people and made friends with their classmates immediately.”

Jump Start Program Impact

District staff and families have witnessed the positive impacts of the program in preparing young learners for kindergarten.

Derek Crifasi, a parent of two Jump Start attendees, spoke highly of the program’s impact for his twin daughters. He noted value in the opportunity for a head start on education with impactful teachers whom his daughters enjoyed.

“They (teachers) not only prepared them academically, but also made a huge impact on their lives, which I will be forever grateful for,” Crifasi said. “They (daughters) learned so much from this program and they both were a little bummed when it ended. Then we found out a summer school Jump Start program was going to be offered, so of course we were on board.”

Data has supported the success of the program as well.

“We have been able to track student progress via WaKIDS data,” Bowlden said. “We found that children who attended even just the four-week summer Jump Start program had much higher scores on the WaKIDS assessment than their peers who did not attend Jump Start.”

The program has worked to provide opportunities for play and exploration in order to build a strong foundation for learning.

“All in all, students became more confident being at school in a very gentle environment where play was the focus of learning,” Hawes said. “Students left wanting to be in school and super excited for kindergarten to start.”

Jump Start Staff Impact

Jump Start also serves an important role for school district staff, who are able to become familiar with students as they prepare to enter the Ferndale School District K-12 system. At the end of the upcoming spring program, there will be an opportunity for staff to have conferences with families.

“Jump Start provides an opportunity to meet some of our youngest learners earlier and to identify needs earlier, which helps to set children up for success once they hit kindergarten,” Bowlden said. “The program also provides an opportunity to create relationships with families, which we know is so important throughout the educational journey. “

Registration and More Information

Program registration began November 1st and more information and contact information can be found on the Ferndale School District Jump Start page.