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Sedro-Woolley School District starting pre-kindergarten program

December 17, 2018

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — In Tanya Rolf’s kindergarten class at Mary Purcell Elementary School, students are using red and white blocks to practice their counting skills and work on their colors — sometimes aligning the blocks so they are in a “candy cane” pattern.

It’s exactly what the Sedro-Woolley School District wants its kindergarten students to do, said Principal Mike Cullum.

“This is what we want to get to,” Cullum said. “There’s always going to be behavior management (in a classroom). We want to get to the academics.”

In an effort to get all of its students kindergarten ready, the school district will begin offering Foundations K, a class designed to give children who haven’t attended preschool or day care the same skills as those who have, said Assistant Superintendent Mike Olson.

“We notice that many of our kindergartners come to us without any experience of holding scissors or knowing colors,” Olson said.

A big part of kindergarten readiness, Cullum said, is knowing how to share, play nicely, and stand in a line — all things students learn in a preschool or day care setting, if their families are able to afford that.

“There’s a large group of students who have no such experiences,” Olson said.

According to the annual ”State of Children and Families Report” — completed annually by the Northwest Early Learning Coalition — not all Skagit County children are prepared to enter kindergarten, lagging behind in several of the six indicators used by the state to measure kindergarten readiness.

Those six indicators include physical, language, cognitive, literacy, math and social-emotional readiness.

According to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, if students enter kindergarten and aren’t ready, they are less likely to do well on their third-grade standardized tests, Olson said.

Students who do poorly on that test are less likely to graduate from high school, he said.

“If we want every student to graduate, we also want every student kindergarten ready,” Olson said.

The Foundations K class is designed for children who will be 5 by Aug. 31, 2019, and who are scheduled to enter kindergarten that year. It will run from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. four days a week, beginning Jan. 29 and ending June 14.

“Because these students haven’t had pre-kindergarten experiences, this program will make them fully ready for kindergarten in the fall,” Olson said.

The program will be similar to the Burlington-Edison School District’s ”Opportunity K” program, which is based on a similar program in the Bellingham School District.

This year, the Sedro-Woolley program will be housed at the district’s Good Beginnings Preschool, which is located off Cook Road.

After that, the program will move to Mary Purcell Elementary, with the potential to move to other schools depending on need.

“It’s going to run like a kindergarten, not like a day care,” Cullum said. “It gives (the children) a big advantage coming into the next year.”

To apply for the program, visit the district’s website at swsd101.org or call the district office at 360-855-3503.

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