Students take part in "circle time" during the Blast Off to Kindergarten program this summer

EDITOR'S NOTE: Manchester School District’s summer learning programs are in full swing! Over the next week, we’ll be highlighting our programs, which include several new offerings. Today, we’re focusing on one of those new programs, Blast off to Kindergarten. 

Blast Off to Kindergarten number blocks

MANCHESTER – Blast Off to Kindergarten is an entirely new program in Manchester School District, created to prepare incoming kindergarten students for their first school year. Blast Off is running at four school sites: Bakersville, Beech Street, Gossler Park and Smyth Road. 

A big part of kindergarten is simply learning how to go to school – the goal of this program is to give students a bit of a jump start, and maybe calm some nerves before the first day. Jessica Huard, the math coach at Weston Elementary School, is helping to run the program. She said Blast Off simulates the school day for our youngest students.

“They follow a schedule that's very similar to what they will have in kindergarten,” said Huard, a former kindergarten teacher. “It's very play-based, and they do ‘circle time’ with songs and calendar to get them used to that routine. They also do table-based work and centers just like they would in a classroom.”

The lessons extend beyond the classroom, as well. On the day we visited, students practiced the lunch room routine, getting the hot lunch from the counter or getting tips on unwrapping tricky-to-open snacks. 

There were two sessions offered, with each running for two weeks. Students attended from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each weekday in class groups capped at 20. While it’s too late to sign up for the program this year, it’s not too late to register new students. You can register a student online today at