Many kindergarteners who started school last week are more comfortable, thanks to their participation in a free program run by schools in the Edmonds School District.
Each district elementary school runs its own Jump Start program, a series of three-hour “school days” — usually in August . It allows kids entering kindergarten to try out their new environment so they can adjust before the first day of school in the fall. They start socializing as they meet their future classmates, try some classroom activities like coloring and explore the seemingly giant school.
Newly-minted first grader Mia Cruz and her parents, Anya and Beryle Cruz, revisited Mia’s kindergarten classroom before the start of the school year to talk about Spruce Elementary School’s Jump Start kindergarten program. The colorful classroom was now familiar and comfortable to Mia, but it hadn’t always been that way.
Starting school was a big undertaking, especially after the pandemic when Mia — an only child — couldn’t spend time with her peers and other adults. And it wasn’t just Mia who was nervous. Like many other parents, Anya and Beryle were excited for Mia to start school, but anxious as well. All of them were put at ease, however, when they participated in Spruce’s Jump Start program
The program is equally beneficial for parents, Anna and Beryle said. They learned what steps school staff would use in emergency events, reducing concerns about safety. Keeping parents on the same page as school staff allows every family to work together during the educational journey.
Both children and parents in the Jump Start program benefit from learning about the small, unspoken items that are easy to forget about but crucial to a child’s smooth learning experience.
“It’s like you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Beryle. For example, do children know how to open up their lunch Tupperware? Do they know how to button themselves into their sweater in the winter? How does a parent enroll their student in school lunches? Do kids know how to load into the car when it’s time for pickup? Learning these basic but essential skills will streamline operations in the classroom.
Of Spruce Elementary’s 81 enrolled kindergarteners, 47 took advantage of this year’s Jump Start program, said district spokesperson Lisa Van Cise. While the school district offers preschool, not every student participates. Yet every student can get off on the right foot for kindergarten through Jump Start, Van Cise said.
In 2009, the school district began offering the program at a few schools, but now it is offered at every elementary school.
Assistant Superintendent Dana Geaslen spoke to the benefits of the program.
“We are grateful our district is able to offer ‘Jump Start’ for all of our incoming kindergarten students and their families,” said Assistant Superintendent Dana Geaslen. “It supports a positive transition for our young learners and gives them a little taste of all the exciting things to come.”
–By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis