As SMSD kindergarten students begin their first days of school, many have already made a Jump Start to learning.
These students attended a three-week summer program focused on literacy, numeracy, and the skills of being a student. Jump Start to Learning takes place in SMSD classrooms and connects students to Shawnee Mission School District educators and peers.
“Jump Start provides students with an opportunity to learn the routines and procedures of our schools and build relationships with peers and teachers ahead of the school year so they can serve as leaders for their school community,” Maggie Carter, Jump Start administrative intern shared.
Jump Start parent Hayley Owen said she appreciated the opportunity to have her child learn in a “fun environment with kids her own age” as she gets ready for school.
“I think that’s really helped her,” Owen shared.
“The opportunity to step into kindergarten in a smaller class of peers and with a shortened day helps students acclimate to their new school environment and alleviate anxious feelings,” said Dr. Leigh Anne Neal, chief of early learning/sustainability.
During Jump Start, schools also invite parents to attend Family Engagement activities. This gives family members the opportunity to experience time in the classroom alongside their students and gain new insight into their child’s learning experience. They get to see classroom routines, hear directions from the teacher, and see norms at play. It is a great way to help family members become even stronger partners in the child’s learning experience, Stefani Shafer, Jump Start teacher shared.
Supporters in the extended Shawnee Mission community also often get involved with Jump Start. The Johnson County Library connected with students and teachers through virtual visits. Local fire departments also visited classrooms. Andy’s Frozen Custard provided frozen refreshments for students across the program. At Shawnaoe, several community partners helped incoming kindergartners experience a harvest at their school’s educational garden.
At the conclusion of the program, many parents report a higher level of confidence in their students as they transition to kindergarten. When Jon Hauser’s child attended Jump Start this year, he said she considered it the best part of her day.
“Every night she asks us if she gets to go to school tomorrow,” Hauser shared. “She calls it her pretend kindergarten and she loves it.”
The program this year was held with funding from Title I, a federally funded program that provides monetary support to schools with high numbers and percentages of families identified as having low income.
Learn more about Early Childhood Education in the SMSD by clicking here.