New program seeks to give kindergartners a ‘Jump Start’ on learning

posted Aug 17, 2017, 2:07 PM by Joe Vajgrt

New program seeks to give kindergartners a ‘Jump Start’ on learning

August 17, 2017

One child’s hand after another darts into the air, arms outstretched and waving in anticipation of being called upon to share their life experiences with a classroom full of peers. If this sounds like a typical scene from a kindergarten classroom, well, that’s the point.

This scene has been playing out all week at Daybreak Primary School, where incoming kindergartners are participating in Battle Ground Public Schools’ “Jump Start” pilot program. “The goal of Jump Start is to help students get acclimated to the school learning environment,” said Principal Matt Kauffman. “Providing kids with an early introduction to their teachers, classrooms and classmates helps ease the transition for everyone so the focus can be on learning once the school year officially begins.”

In addition to providing a sense of familiarity for the kindergartners prior to the beginning of the school year, it’s also a valuable opportunity for teachers to get to know their students and their learning needs. Plus, parents whose little ones are beginning full-day school for the first time get to meet their kids’ teachers and school administrators, helping to ease the transition for everyone.

Kauffman and the newly-hired assistant principal at Daybreak Primary, Solina Journey, have several years of Jump Start experience from their time working in the Vancouver School District. The pair of administrators saw an opportunity and helped launch BGPS’ own Jump Start pilot program, which they hope to see expanded across the district in future years.

The Jump Start program is free for incoming kindergartners, and enrollment is optional. Even though this program is new to BGPS, more than 70 percent of Daybreak’s incoming kindergarten students attended. Some of the specific school readiness goals of the program include the importance of raising your hand in class and walking in a single-file line through hallways, how to treat school supplies, and how to sit on the carpet and be an active listener. The young students also get their first introduction to the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS expectations.

Battle Ground Public Schools has implemented PBIS at all its schools in support of its focus on social-emotional learning. With PBIS, staff teach behavioral expectations to students just as they would any core subject, and reinforce those expectations with rewards. Daybreak’s unique PBIS expectations are known as Dragon ARMOR, which stands for Always Safe, Responsible, Making Good Choices, On Task, and Respectful to All. By demonstrating these expected behaviors, students can earn “dragon scales” that accumulate for a grade-level award.

“The Jump Start kindergarten program helps students build confidence and be more comfortable in their school surroundings,” said Laurie Sundby, BGPS’ director of instructional leadership for early childhood and primary education. “We’re excited to have Jump Start at Daybreak this year to introduce children to the joy of learning in an enriching environment.”