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Child’s play is part of learning at Inclusive Transitional Kindergarten

Students during circle time

Girl playing with puppetsThe first day of kindergarten came early for some 4- and 5-year-olds. Students in Becca Boatwright’s Inclusive Transitional Kindergarten (ITK) class are learning how to be a good friend and how to wait their turn. They are also learning the foundational skills for literacy and math they will need for Kindergarten in the fall.

Lakewood Elementary School welcomed its first class of ITK students with the help of a state grant on January 31. The full-day program is designed for students who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality early-learning experience. “It has been so rewarding to see how eager our young students are to be at school and learn,” Boatwright said.

In providing the grant, the state determined that there are not enough preschool programs in our service area to accommodate all the preschoolers who live in our district. As part of the grant, Lakewood School District is partnering with other early learning centers to offer training and tours to increase preschool capacity for the benefit of our community.

Participation in ITK provides students with the jump start they need for a successful kindergarten entry. A recent study from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction found that students who were kindergarten-ready in literacy and in math were more than 1.5 times as likely to meet the proficiency standards on the third grade English language arts and math assessments. In fall 2022, kindergarten students who had participated in ITK outperformed their peers on the state Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills in all six areas of assessment: Cognitive, Language, Literacy, Mathematics, Physical, and Social-Emotional.

Children can qualify for ITK regardless of their family’s income and must live in Lakewood School District. Families fill out an application that identifies students who need additional preparation to be successful in kindergarten. We are so excited to welcome these young learners,” said LES Principal Kristin Cortés. “The addition of this program, alongside our established ECEAP and Developmental Preschool programs, brings an added strength to our robust early learning programs in Lakewood.”