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Investment in a strong early childhood program is a top priority for Bellingham Public Schools, as stated in our strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise.  With the support of Bellingham voters who approved a supplemental levy in 2010, Bellingham was out of the gate early in Washington state in moving to full-time kindergarten for all students in all elementary schools. This year, that effort has continued, as we learn from the experience of our teachers and students in ways that will shape programmatic decisions to ensure that all entering kindergartners can experience early and continuing success. We continue to build excellent preschool opportunities for Bellingham students, and to provide the necessary program leadership for our preschool offerings. Over time, we envision that every student in the Bellingham community will enjoy access to a high-quality preschool experience that will enable them to come to kindergarten ready to learn. Scroll down the page for information on:

  • Promise Kindergarten
  • Developmental Preschool
  • Full Day Kindergarten
  • Kindergarten Registration and Open Houses
  • Early Entrance to Kindergarten
  • Community Partnerships
  • Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS)
  • Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 Alignment (P-3)

Promise K(indergarten)

Promise K is a free, full-day early entrance kindergarten for children who are scheduled to enter kindergarten in the upcoming fall.  The program focuses on basic academic and social skills to help qualifying students get a jump start towards success in school. Students must demonstrate financial, academic and social/emotional needs and cannot be currently enrolled in another early learning program. Recruiting students and selecting school sites occurs in November/December.  Screening students for eligibility will occur in January and schools sites will be finalized based on enrollment.   The first day of Promise K generally falls on the first day of our second semester in early February and runs until the end of the school year. For the 2019 school year, the first day will be Wednesday, January 30.


Applications will be accepted beginning November 1, 2018.   Click here to apply!    For more information, contact Kris Newberry at  360-676-6488.


Spanish Version!     Para más información, por favor contacte a: Kris Newberry al 360-676-6488, en español al 360-676-6456, o llene el siguiente formulario.


View our Promise K video below.

Developmental Preschool

Early childhood preschool programs provide a language-based curriculum to students ages 3-4 with developmental delays. Resource programs provide direct, integrated, and/or consultative services to students with mild to moderate disabilities in general education. The district participates in “child find” – awareness and screening activities for the purpose of locating, identifying and evaluating children who are suspected of having disabilities and who may be in need of special education services. Resource programs are based in every elementary, middle and high school.
Preschool programs are based in the following locations:
  • Alderwood Elementary
  • Birchwood Elementary
  • Cordata Elementary
  • Geneva Elementary
  • Happy Valley Elementary
  • Northern Heights Elementary
  • Sunnyland Elementary

Contact: Coleen Aylen 360-676-6470 ext.4408


Full Day Kindergarten

Thanks to supportive voters, Bellingham Public Schools got a jump-start on early learning to become a state leader in providing full-time kindergarten for all students since fall 2011. Now as the state is starting to fund more full-time kindergarten, Bellingham is again taking the lead to offer more preschool opportunities.

Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten registration runs from the beginning of March through the end of April. Children must be 5 before Sept. 1 to attend kindergarten. Check with your school office for early entrance opportunities. View the registration webpage for information about kindergarten registration. The first day of school for kindergarten is Aug. 30 (half-day).


Ideas to get your child “kindergarten ready”

  • Play board games with your child to practice taking turns.
  • Visit the local library.
  • Set up several play dates this summer.
  • Visit your child’s school playground and practice playing on the equipment and following rules such as ‘slides are for going down.’
  • Have your child practice following one-step and two-step directions. This could easily be done by making lunch together, or having them pick up their toys.
  • Read to your child for a combined total of at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Draw together, allowing your child time to practice using different tools (crayons, markers, pencils, side walk chalk).
  • Have your child practice writing their name multiple ways (with playdough, using a stick in the dirt/sand, in shaving cream, using side walk chalk, or on paper for example).
  • Have your child practice sorting objects around the house, this is especially fun while doing chores together (sort clothes, silverware, their toys).
  • While driving in the car or shopping in a grocery store, notice letters, numbers, colors on signs, or in the objects around them.
  • Practice counting to 20 while taking a walk or driving in the car.
  • Count objects together. Count everything in and out of the home. While collecting rocks is especially fun!
  • Engage in pretend play together. For example, use a plain cardboard box to go on an adventure to the moon!
  • Visit local parks and beaches and take time to notice the amazing wonders nature has to offer.
  • Provide plenty of opportunity to allow your child to engage in free play both inside and outside the house on a daily basis.


Early Entrance to Kindergarten 


Early Entrance – If your child’s fifth birthday falls after August 31 and you are interested in having your child evaluated for early entrance to kindergarten to attend school in the fall, please view our early entrance policy, procedure and form (form in Spanish) (application due by May 1). When applying for early entrance, please complete the following questionnaires: Parent Questionnaire, Teacher Questionnaire and return them to the District Office.  Assessments and evaluations for early entrance usually occur in May.


GRADS (Graduation, Reality And Dual-role Skills) is a program for pregnant and parenting students that provides the academic and childcare support necessary to stay in high school and graduate. GRADS is available at no cost to pregnant teens and young parents under the age of twenty-one who live in Bellingham or Whatcom County and have not graduated from high school. The program is located at Sehome, Options and Squalicum high schools. Students attend regular high school courses as well as receive instruction in units of study related to: pregnancy, parenting, positive self-image and economic independence.

View the program brochure.

grads graduation 2

Community Partnerships

Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS)

WaKIDS is a transition process that helps to ensure a successful start to the K-12 experience and connect the key adults in a child’s life. Please visit the WaKIDS website for more information.

Three Components of WaKIDS 

  1. Family connection welcomes families into the Washington K-12 system as partners in their child’s education.
  2. Whole-child assessment gives kindergarten teachers information about the social/emotional, physical, cognitive, language, literacy and mathematics development of the children in their classrooms, so they may tailor their instruction to the individual needs of each child.
  3. Early learning collaboration aligns practices of early learning professionals and kindergarten teachers to support smooth transitions for children.

Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 Alignment (P-3)

P-3 is a comprehensive reform strategy, focused on ensuring that all children develop the cognitive and social skills that establish strong foundations for future learning. Please visit the Northwest Educational Service District 189 website for more information.