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Kindergarten Readiness Gets a Boost from Summer-Extension Programming, a Pandemic-Era Adaptation to the Seattle Preschool Program with Lasting Benefits 

Preschoolers at Creative Kids Learning Center at Carkeek Park read a book with their teacher and do hands-on projects in preparation for an upcoming trip to Woodland Park Zoo (August 2022).

Last week, hundreds of Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) participants started kindergarten better prepared and with more confidence around the big transition to school. That’s because preschool classes were extended through the summer for the second consecutive year, with some programs having as many as 10 weeks of extended programming.  

Summer extension was first piloted in the summer of 2021 in response to a school year rife with learning interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides rising kindergarteners extra support and more opportunities for social and academic preparedness as they get ready to enter the K-12 system. SPP providers, whose contracts with the City typically cover September through June programming, were offered a second summer extension option. Many of these programs experienced frequent staff and student absences during the 2021-2022 school year, as the impact of COVID-19 on learning persisted, and 20 out of 26 provider agencies opted to participate in the 2022 summer extension. Over half of SPP’s 128 classrooms stayed open to serve their preschoolers through late July or August.  

Grace Alams is the director of Creative Kids Learning Center, a Seattle Preschool Program provider with two SPP locations in Northwest Seattle: Viewlands Elementary (currently operating at John Marshall during construction) and Carkeek Park; both offered extended summer programming this year. “Almost all our families told us how much summer extension has helped their child who is going into kindergarten,” said Grace. “For some of our students who were still struggling socially during the school year, the extra months in the classroom helped them better adapt and be kindergarten ready. We’ve seen a huge boost this summer in many students’ social-emotional development.” 

Throughout the school year, SPP providers receive multiple supports from the Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), including instructional support for curriculum, classroom environment setup, professional development opportunities, and family resources. Programs also work closely with DEEL staff, including an Early Learning coach who supports their work.  

Miriam Zmiewski-Angelova is the DEEL coach who works with the Creative Kids team and Director Alams. “Creative Kids Learning Center is a model program and a gift to the Seattle community,” said Zmiewski-Angelova. “Ms. Grace is a dynamic and seasoned director who grew this program from a family childcare home into a center-based program with multiple educators that still feels like a family. Their tender and playful interactions with their children demonstrate their love for the children they serve. I have truly enjoyed all my time working with their educators and support staff.” 

The response to summer programming has been so positive—from both families and providers—that DEEL, with support from the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy Oversight Committee, recently proposed a legislative change to the FEPP Levy implementation plan to make summer extension a permanent component of SPP. City Council voted on September 20 to adopt the change, and SPP providers now have the option each spring to extend their contract through summer months, at least through 2026 when the FEPP Levy expires. Summer extension can make staff retention easier for SPP providers and eliminate the need for many preschool teachers to find additional work during summer. Parents also appreciate not having to find alternative child care or summer programs for their children during the summer months. Their children get to remain in a familiar and supportive learning environment.  

“Previously, during summer months, our preschoolers had to be joined with other age groups, which often proved challenging for both staff and the children,” Alams shared. “Now, with SPP summer programming, we get to have a focused class with just our preschool-aged children, and it’s been amazing. In addition to time in the classroom doing science and art, we also get to go on outings, such as to the zoo or on nature walks. Summer provides opportunities for more exploration and hands-on experiences.” 

While programming for the Seattle Preschool Program for the 2022-2023 school year has already started and many classrooms are full, multiple programs around the city still have openings. To find out about openings and apply, visit or call (206) 386-1050.