First Fives

The Ferndale School District offers one First Fives classroom each school year.  The program is designed for students who:

  • Are eligible to attend kindergarten, having turned five by December 1, 2022

  • Has little or no preschool experience

  • Are developmentally young

Our vision for First Fives is to build our youngest students' confidence and skills in a safe, nurturing environment. This program allows our students to experience school in a heartfelt, developmentally appropriate way. We have watched our First Fives students grow, develop and mature into natural leaders as they enter Kindergarten each year. 

First 5s is a full day optional program. All students are required to attend the morning session. Due to the developmental age of the students, the afternoon session is optional. The optional afternoon session provides an opportunity for parents to take their children home at the end of the morning session. Parents who want their children to attend a full day of school may select the full day option. Most students want to stay all day with their peers and enjoy the fun. 


The First 5s program uses an alternate curriculum that aligns with Kindergarten standards. This allows students who will attend Kindergarten the following year to have an opportunity to experience a different curriculum, but focused on the same outcomes.  Pre-reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are emphasized as are mathematics skills.  In addition, students study science and social studies.  Reading and mathematics instruction are taught during the morning session.  The afternoon session focuses on science and social studies as well as additional English language arts and mathematics instruction.  In addition to core content, the program’s focus is on social, emotional, and large and small muscle development.

Concepts are presented in a developmentally appropriate manner.  Students use objects, or manipulatives, to experience abstract concepts.  Experiential learning is the instructional model employed in the First 5s program.  Once mastery is demonstrated, students move to the next level of cognitive development; demonstrating knowledge through the use of pictures or images.  Some students may demonstrate mastery of aspects of the kindergarten curriculum; however students are expected to exit the First 5s program ready to enter kindergarten.

Students attending the full-day program participate in one art class along with two vocal music and two physical education classes each week.  Students enrolled in the half-day program participate in some of the above classes; scheduling will determine the classes as well as the number of sessions half-day students participate in each week.

Teacher Qualifications

All teachers are certified and highly qualified for the subject or class instructed.  The First 5s teacher will instruct both the morning and afternoon sessions. Our First Fives teacher has a strong background in early childhood and elementary education.


There is no fee for participating in either the full- or half-day First 5s program.


First 5s classes follow the Ferndale Schools’ district calendar with students attending school five days a week.

Bell Schedule

The students’ day begins at the same time as all other students in the building. Half-day students are dismissed prior to the start of the student lunch hour. Full-day students are dismissed with all students in the school at the end of the school day.  


Full-day First 5 students are eligible to ride a school bus to and from school where district transportation is available. Half-day students may ride the bus to school only (where district transportation is available) and parents are responsible to pick their child up each day prior to the start of the lunch hour.


Students enrolled in the full-day First 5s program are eligible to eat lunch at school. Just as all students, they may bring their lunch or purchase a hot lunch. If eligible, full-day students may participate in the free and/or reduced lunch program. Half-day students are dismissed prior to the start of the lunch hour and do not each lunch at school.

School Age Child Care

Ferndale Public Schools offers a fee-based before- and/or after- school program. Full-day First 5s students are welcome to participate in both before- and after-school programs. Half-day students may participate in the before-school program only.

Location of the Program

The First 5s classroom is held at Ferndale Elementary Lower Campus located at 2610 Pinecrest, Ferndale.

Enrollment Questions

How is placement decided for First Fives?

Students who are identified by family or educator to be a candidate for First Fives are tested using the Brigance Early Childhood Assessment.  BRIGANCE Early Childhood focuses on the skills that lead to school success. It utilizes  observation, interviews, and child performance to pinpoint understanding in the domains tied to kindergarten readiness. Testing will take place beginning in May. 

We select students for the program based on their Brigance results, date of birth and if they have had any preschool experiences. Not all students who are tested or identified to be in the First Fives program are guaranteed a spot. This program is for students who would benefit from the program the most. 

What is the process for students who are currently at FECC?

Students who are currently in our Ferndale Early Childhood Center work with the FECC director to indicate interest in First Fives.  Decisions are made by the First Fives enrollment team.  Families will be notified once assessments are complete if their child is eligible for the class no later than June 1. If your child is not selected they can stay at FECC for an additional year of preschool (if their birthday falls in the waiver window) or transition to kindergarten.

How does my child get into the First Fives program?

  1. Complete Ferndale Schools Enrollment Form and indicate your interest in First Fives or complete the current FECC Kindergarten Intent form and indicate your interest in First Fives.

  2. Once you check the First Fives box on the Ferndale Schools enrollment form or Kindergarten Intent form, your child’s name will be added to the First Fives Assessment List.

  3. We will contact you to set up an appointment to do a short evaluation with  you and your child.

  4. The information obtained during the appointment and evaluation will allow us to make the best determination for your child.

Changing Programs: From a Half-Day to a Full-Day Student

Parents may request a change in programming from the half-day option to the full-day option.  By second semester, it is expected that all First Fives students are at school full time. For the safety of all children, parents must commit to either the half-day or full-day program and may not change programs without first participating in a parent/teacher conference.


For further information, contact Mrs. Diana Keefe at 248-586-8801.