Lynden Schools offering early kindergarten pilot program

Lynden Schools offering early kindergarten pilot program
Posted on 11/21/2017

A pilot program at Lynden Schools offers accepted students an opportunity to enter an early kindergarten program, an effort to support students who may find themselves behind in any number of development areas before they enter kindergarten in fall 2018.

Tim Metz, special programs coordinator for the district, says the program—housed at Fisher Elementary—will support readiness for students who may be behind in academic, social/emotional, behavioral, motor skills or language development. “The program is not intended for students who are typically developing or highly capable,” he says. “This is for kids who need readiness support who have not had access to structured preschool programs.”

While Lynden currently offers preschool free for students with disabilities or via tuition for community peers, the new program aims to find those students who don’t qualify for disability assistance, but also have not had the benefit of a preschool, whether at Lynden or other community programs.

“What happens is you have families where the child doesn’t qualify for a program or the family doesn’t have the financial means (for preschool,)” Metz says. “This is free. The goal is to identify students who demonstrate a need and provide them a jump start.”

With students entering kindergarten at a wide range of development levels, Metz says any opportunity to level the development gap will help students as they move through the future years of school.

The early kindergarten program will serve as a full-time program similar to regular kindergarten. Students even ride the school bus. It will start Jan. 25 and run through the end of the school year for students who turn 5 by Sept. 1, 2018, and plan to attend kindergarten in the fall.

Lynden Schools will accept applications now for students living within the school district and run screenings for the 20 spots in early January.

“It is a really cool program,” Metz says. “Our hope is to expand this in the future.”

With four additional classrooms opening soon at the new Fisher Elementary school, the pilot will kick off there with one teacher and one para-educator. Based on response and how the pilot operates, Metz says they hope success in the program allows them to continue in the future and potentially expand as classroom space and interest allows.

For those interested in an application, contact Pam Hall at the special programs office at 360-354-2893, ext. 2.

For parents unsure if their child may qualify for the early kindergarten program based on development needs, Metz encourages them to run through these questions:

Is your child speaking and using four- or five-word sentences?

Can your child recognize numbers and count to five?

Can your child recognize some letters, especially in his/her name?

Does your child cooperate with other children? 

Does your child understand rules in different settings?

Can your child hold a pencil or crayon and trace shapes and letters?

Does your child recognize shapes and colors?

Can your child throw a ball?