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Jump Start helps kindergarteners get 'school ready'

Jump Start students practice spelling

While most students and teachers are soaking up their last few weeks of summer in July, there are groups of students and teachers already in PLCS elementary schools for a program called Jump Start. 

Jump Start helps kindergarteners get a head start on the kindergarten year from the end of July into the beginning of August. The program helps the children get used to the routines, while also introducing the educational skills they'll need throughout the school year.

“For some students, this is their first school experience, their first time being with their peers, and it is an educational experience of following directions, learning to share - those social skills you need to be successful in school," said Golden Hills Elementary Jump Start Lead Teacher Tessie Boudreau. 

Teacher helps Jump start students

Both kindergarten teachers Amanda Sasada and Missy Westerman have volunteered to be Jump Start teachers since the beginning of the program nearly a decade ago. Both teachers say they see fewer tears from their Jump Start students compared to other children who are experiencing school for the very first time.

“The transition can be really tricky for kids to go from never being in school to now I have to be in school all day and do all these things they are not used to doing and follow these procedures," said Westerman. "I think it is a really good way to ease them into their school careers."

There are extra adults in the building during Jump Start to help support the teachers. 

"The students can learn to work with a variety of teachers, not just one classroom teacher," Sasada said.

students learn at jump start

She also explained as part of the program they do home visits.

"So we get to make connections with the families and build those relationships not just with the student, but with the parents as well.”

Westerman explained the program helps the Jump Start students become leaders on the first day of school.

“They are such good role models, we can use them as examples," Westerman said. "We even kind of prep them for that saying, 'you’ve been here for three weeks, now new kiddos are coming and they might be scared so they are really going to need your help'.”

“They kind of take on a leadership role because they know what is going on, they know what to expect. They know what to do.”

As far as who goes to Jump Start, parents have a choice to sign their kids up or not. But there is also criteria for students to be able to a part of the program. Learn more here.

The Kindergarten Jump Start Program is a partnership between Papillion La Vista Community Schools and the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties.