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Soon-to-be kindergarten students get a jump-start on school through KITS program

For many students, the summer months represent a break from school and homework -- a time when regular schedules and school responsibilities are put on hold until the fall. 

But others, including many soon-to-be kindergarten students in the Springfield KITS Program, are spending part of their summer getting a jump-start on their academic career.

KITS stands for Kids in Transition to School. The program currently takes place in 32 different Lane County Schools. As part of the 8 to 12-week programming, pre-kindergarten students learn how to follow directions, maintain respectful boundaries, share with other children and just be in a classroom, among other behaviors.

The program also helps students gain early literacy and numeracy skills, self-regulation and social skills, while parents learn how to establish school routines to help with the transition to kindergarten, how to become involved with their children’s schooling and how to encourage positive behaviors at school and at home.

This year, the program is sponsored by the Meyer Memorial Trust and the Collins Foundation.

Although the program has taken place in Springfield and other area school districts for a number of years, this summer is the first in which a program is being hosted completely in Spanish for both students and parents.

On Tuesday morning, a group of about 10 students made their way into Guy Lee Elementary School for a few hours of focused games, learning, singing, group play and more. In their two-hour session, the 4 and 5-year old students focused on cooperation. They sang songs, practiced taking turns and listening to their teachers give them directions on how to play Duck Duck Goose.

Much of their instruction was given in Spanish, but songs were sung and games were played in English. The majority of the students in the class area already mostly bilingual and were able to respond to their teachers in both languages.

While the tiny learners played together in one room, their parents and other important adults in their lives met with Silvia Ceja, a Family Development Specialist for the Springfield district.

In their meeting, parents learn about how to help their soon-to-be kindergarten students with routines, appropriate school behaviors and how to access resources if they need it. Although Guy Lee is a dual immersion school, students who have traditionally spoken Spanish at home will now be learning in English, too, making homework a bit trickier. 

Ceja said the adult classes also allow for parents to establish a relationship with their student’s school community.

The program was developed by the Oregon Social Learning Center. For more information, visit