JumpStart helps ESL children

As summer winds down, it is inevitable that thoughts turn to the opening of Valley schools in a few weeks.

Linda McLean

Special to the Record

As summer winds down, it is inevitable that thoughts turn to the opening of Valley schools in a few weeks.

Notebooks, pencils, glue, erasers are some of the tools that get kids off to a good start.

Another bigger and more valuable tool that will give a child the best start when they enter school for the first time is JumpStart, a special program offered at Courtenay Elementary School.

JumpStart, a pre-school program created jointly by School District 71 (SD 71) and the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CDA), focuses on helping four-year-olds with English as a second language gain an equal footing with their peers when they start kindergarden at age five.

In addition, JumpStart has a broader mandate to support the development of vulnerable pre-school children.

Anna Jordan, the ESL Home-School Liaison Worker with SD 71, and Laurel Hodgins, CDAʼs JumpStart program supervisor, have worked collaboratively for six years to make this program a success.

Why at Courtenay Elementary School?

The results of a study using Early Development Indicator conducted

in 2004 out of the University of British Columbia, showed that this schoolʼs neighbourhood had a large number of vulnerable children, meaning they were not on track in terms of school readiness.

The main objective of HELP was to ensure that early child development research knowledge was translated into community action, and with HELPʼs information and the concentrated efforts of SD 71 and the CDA, the JumpStart program was born.

The program revolves around play-based learning and a concept called “emergent curriculum,” which Hodgins explains as simply “talking with the children and listening to discover what their interests are.”

The curriculum is then created around these interests.

“This works very well with ESL children because their interests are included in whatʼs going on in the room with the rest of the kids,” says Hodgins.

Jordan says there has been such a change in the past two years in the program. Families have become

more comfortable and involved in the school.

“More mothers are volunteering in the school, going to the school library with ease instead of trepidation, and have developed an incredible support system.”

The whole family grows as well as the individual child.

In September, JumpStart begins at Courtenay Elementary School on McPhee Avenue and runs five days a week. All four-year-olds are welcome whether English is their first or second language. Contact Laurel Hodgins at 250-898-4317 for registration details.

The Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) provides services for children with developmental delays and disabilities including physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional and behavioural needs.  Family-centred services include assessments and individualized supports and


For more information visit the CVCDA website at www.cvcda.ca or call 250-338-4288.

— Comox Valley Child Development Association

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