BELLINGHAM - Local kids have been getting a crack at school a year early at three elementary schools that began hosting Head Start preschool programs this fall.
Bellingham School District and the Opportunity Council teamed up to bring Head Start to Alderwood, Roosevelt and Carl Cozier elementary schools, with the aim of creating a smoother transition into kindergarten.
"The overall goal is social competence and school readiness for these kids," said Pam Head, a Head Start supervisor with the Opportunity Council.
The Opportunity Council has offered Head Start for some time, but this is the first time the nonprofit has been able to host the program in Bellingham schools. That means teachers can better collaborate to make sure preschoolers are building skills they'll use in kindergarten, creating a stronger foundation for future learning. The three classes serve 51 students, mostly from families who are below the poverty line.
"This is exactly where we need to be," said Kim Walbeck, preschool services manager for the Opportunity Council. "Everyone is starting to see that early childhood education is an important place to focus our attention to support better outcomes for all students. It's just a really exciting time."
With Head Start in the schools, kids and families get a chance to become comfortable there before starting kindergarten.
"It becomes a home," said Kristi Dominguez, the district's early childhood education coordinator. "Any time you have a child in their home environment, it feels safer for them to learn."
Bellingham parent Brian Teachman said having his son Rowan, 4, in preschool at Roosevelt has been a great way to get him ready for school and introduce him to some of the rules and behavior that will be expected of him. Rowan loves the art projects and playing at recess.
"He feels like a big boy going to the big boy school," Teachman said. "I think the program is great. He really enjoys it."
Information in this story was updated Tuesday, Nov. 27.
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