Our Program

Jumpstart’s program is replicated across the country in 14 states and the District of Columbia. We leverage partnerships with higher education institutions, community organizations, Head Start programs, community-based preschools, and school districts to create sustainable solutions in order to close the kindergarten readiness gap.

Our Curriculum

The Jumpstart program features a curriculum that is designed to focus specifically on building the key skills that research shows are critical in supporting children’s language, literacy, and social-emotional development.

Oral Language Skills

  • Vocabulary means the number of words a child knows. In Jumpstart, children learn new words when reading storybooks. Corps members tell children what new words mean.
  • Comprehension is a child’s ability to understand what is said or read to them. Corps members help children understand more about the world around them. Corps members read and talk about ideas from Jumpstart’s unit themes.

Book and Print Skills

  • Alphabet knowledge is when a child knows letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Children learn letters when they look at their names and other children’s names during Welcome.
  • Meaning and use of print is when a child knows that writing has meaning. Corps members and children write and draw while they play. Writing happens all over the classroom.

Phonological or Sound Awareness Skills

  • Phonemic awareness is when a child can hear separate sounds in words. Children listen for beginning or ending sounds of words in Circle time.
  • Rhyme awareness is when a child can hear and make rhymes.  Corps members and children read poems together. They listen for words that rhyme, like “no” and “so.”

At the core of Jumpstart session plans is a set of 20 children’s books, carefully selected based on their connection to Jumpstart’s curriculum themes, the richness of the narrative, the ability to support vocabulary and comprehension, and their appeal to children. Each story serves as inspiration for the week’s learning activities.

Jumpstart curriculum is always evolving as research continues to emerge about the best strategies in early learning. To learn more about the future of Jumpstart’s curriculum, click here.

How It Works

Jumpstart programs are made possible with the help of volunteers from local colleges and the community, who serve in a variety of preschool settings in low-income communities such as Head Start programs, community based classrooms, and public school pre-K. Each member of our volunteer “Corps” undergoes extensive training before entering the classroom, as well as ongoing coaching throughout the school year to ensure the highest quality program is consistently implemented. Our Corps members typically commit to serving a minimum of 200 hours over the course of the school year and engage children twice a week for two hour sessions. Click here to learn more about our Corps members.

Jumpstart provides children with a consistent routine, low child-to-adult ratios, and positive, meaningful interactions with adults. The curriculum also provides a balance of child-initiated and adult-guided learning opportunities. All of these factors contribute to the progress a child makes towards lifelong success in school and beyond.

On any given week during the school year, more than 1,000 Jumpstart sessions are taking place across the country. A typical Jumpstart session follows this routine: Welcome, Reading, Circle Time, Center Time, Let’s Find Out About It, and Sharing and Goodbye.


Children transition to Jumpstart from their previous activity. Children build alphabet knowledge through exploration of name cards and over time develop an understanding of the meaning and use of print.


Children and Corps members engage in a shared reading experience. Corps members introduce children to a variety of rich vocabulary words, commenting on the story and asking questions to support development of children’s comprehension skills.

Circle Time

Children participate by singing songs, playing word and letter games, and reading poems. The whole-group learning experience builds a sense of community among children and adults.

Center Time

Centers are set up with materials and activities that support children’s language and literacy skill development. Activities are selected by the unit theme and core storybook, deepening children’s understanding of the book and providing opportunities to use story vocabulary.

Let's Find Out About It

A small group activity designed to build children’s concept knowledge and vocabulary. Here, children have the opportunity to explore new ideas and information, learn about objects and their use, and understand how things work.

Sharing and Goodbye

Children talk and listen to others share their favorite session activities in a large group setting. Corps members use objects or examples of children’s work from Center Time and rich vocabulary to support the conversation.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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