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 elementary school students. We continue to learn from the experience of our teachers and students in ways that 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)
  • Child Care Information

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 enter based on need and/or ability such as financial, academic and social-emotional needs and cannot be currently enrolled in another early learning program.  The program expanded from partial year to year-round starting in the 2022-23 school year.

In fall 2022, Promise Kindergarten is located at Alderwood, Birchwood Carl Cozier, Cordata, Geneva, Happy Valley, Lowell, Northern Heights, Parkview, Roosevelt, Silver Beach, Sunnyland and Wade King elementary schools, in 16 different classrooms.

Applications for 2022-23 school year are open!    Apply for Promise K!

View our Promise K video below.

Developmental Preschool

Early childhood preschool programs provide a language-based curriculum to students ages 3-4 who have been identified with developmental delays and qualify for special education services. Programs provide direct, integrated, and/or consultative services to students with mild to moderate disabilities in general education.  The Bellingham School District participates in “Child Find” activities. 
Preschool programs are based in the following locations:
  • Alderwood Elementary
  • Birchwood Elementary
  • Cordata Elementary
  • Geneva Elementary
  • Happy Valley Elementary
  • Northern Heights Elementary
  • Sunnyland Elementary
  • Sehome High School

If you are interested in participating in screening activities for the purpose of locating, identifying and evaluating your child’s  potential disabilities and need of special education services, click here to apply

For more information contact Debbie Haney at 360-676-6470 ext. 4432.

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 funds more full-time kindergarten, Bellingham is again taking the lead to offer more preschool opportunities.

Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten registration generally runs from mid-February through the end of April (although registrations are accepted all year). 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.

Ideas for you and your child to explore:

  • 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 

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).  When applying for early entrance, please complete the Parent Questionnaire and have your child’s current preschool or childcare teacher complete this form, Teacher Questionnaire. Return both questionnaires and the early entrance application (3111F) to the District Office. You may also apply online. Applications are due by May 1. Assessments and evaluations for early entrance 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.

Child Care Information

Child Care Aware

Child Care Aware of Washington is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that every child in Washington has access to high-quality child care and early learning programs. Created by state statute in 1986 and incorporated in 1989, it is the only statewide child care resource and referral program in Washington.

Tom Gresham
360-676-6470 ext. 4454

Dr. Debbie Haney
Assistant Director
360-676-6470 ext. 4432

Kris Newberry
Executive Administrative Assistant