The start of a new school year is just weeks away now, but more and more kindergarteners are already in Seattle classrooms.

After a successful pilot program involving eight schools last year, 34 Seattle schools are now participating in the JumpStart program.

The idea of the program is to get kids acquainted and comfortable in a low-pressure environment before other students arrive.

And it also gives teachers an opportunity to get to know the students before school starts, and it also gives them time to start assessing students' incoming skill sets so they are better able to differentiate instruction throughout the school year, said Principal Helen Joung at Olympic HIlls Elementary.

Kindergarteners come to school for five half-days before the official first day to learn their way around, get to know the teachers, and make friends.

It s also used as a way for teachers to assess student abilities.

Seattle hopes to have JumpStart in all of its elementary schools in the coming years.

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