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 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 occurs in December and schools sites are finalized based on enrollment. The first day of Promise K generally falls on the first day of our second semester in late January/early February and runs until the end of the school year.
In 2021, the Promise Kindergarten program is located at Alderwood, Birchwood, Cordata, Geneva, Happy Valley, Northern Heights and Roosevelt elementary schools.
- Alderwood Elementary
- Birchwood Elementary
- Cordata Elementary
- Geneva Elementary
- Happy Valley Elementary
- Northern Heights Elementary
- Sunnyland Elementary
- Sehome High School
For more information 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 funds more full-time kindergarten, Bellingham is again taking the lead to offer more preschool opportunities.
Kindergarten registration runs from the beginning of March 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. The first day of school for kindergarten is Sept. 3 and Sept. 4 (half-day). The first full day of school for kindergarten is Tuesday, Sept. 8.
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. Update 04/27/2020: Due to COVID-19, assessments and evaluations will be scheduled when the school district is reopened to the public.
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.
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
- Family connection welcomes families into the Washington K-12 system as partners in their child’s education.
- 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.
- 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)
Child Care Information
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.