[early literacy benchmarks], 94 percent of our students were at standard in reading. For this to happen, a number of things had to be in place,” Yank explained. “Jump Start, which gave our kindergartners extra days of school in August, was one of those things.”
In a presentation to the board of directors, Joy and Vaughn detailed the positive outcomes for students, as well as for their teachers and parents.
The two-and-a-half-hour days created a soft landing for students. “It was just the right amount of time for gathering together, singing songs, doing hands-on activities, learning new skills and making new friends,” said Vaughn.
With dedicated instructional coaches, staff assistants, office staff and teachers familiar with students’ needs, Jump Start imparted critical skills. Students learned how to listen, how to follow school routines and even how to maintain focus. “It’s all so new, and there is a lot to take in,” Vaughn said. “They come to us very wide-eyed and fresh-faced, and they’re introduced right away to a welcoming, academic setting. It helps them know that school is a very special place and a very important place. Students learn right away what it looks like to be a focused and ready learner and a hard worker. This transfers right over to being focused and hardworking in their kindergarten classrooms.”
Confidence was another valuable outcome. Said Joy, “If they can start the first day of school where they can write their name on their paper on their own, that gives them confidence. And we know if children have confidence, they’re going to soar.”
Confident students also learned how to become leaders. Roosevelt’s 60 Jump Start students meant that the five kindergarten classrooms each included approximately 12 students who could help their peers and lead when school began.
The program also allowed critical parent-teacher relationships to be established early through parent-teacher conferences that focused on the student and family. “It is so important to us to have that partnership with those families. We get to start in August, so on the first day those kids can come in confidently. The parents are confident in saying their goodbyes because they know us already, and they know the routines of school,” said Joy.
“Jump Start sounds like it was a good thing. It’s great,” said board Vice President Edri Geiger.
Board President Dale Rice agreed. He recalled witnessing the first moments of the first day of school in Joy’s classroom. “I was standing next to Mrs. Yank, and we looked down as these kindergartners, for the first moment of the first day of their formal education, were being led into the classroom by Jump Start kids. They all had the T-shirts on, and they walked in, and the other students followed them. They went into the room, sat down, crossed their legs, closed their mouths and were ready to learn. I don’t need data to say whether Jump Start is a great program. That’s pretty compelling stuff,” he said.
“Kindergarten is a beautiful place to be,” said Joy.