All-Day Kindergarten: The Facts

Facts about Full- Day Kindergarten.

Southington residents have been very vocal either for or against
all day Kindergarten in our public schools. I have read with interest many
different opinions, and I would like to take this opportunity to offer some
facts for your consideration.

Ten states have already adopted full day Kindergarten for all
children. The New Hampshire Department of Education study found the following:

Ten Good Reasons Why Full-Day Kindergarten is a Good Idea

  1. Learning time is increased by 80% (3 hours) compared to a half-day program.
  2. Daily transitions are greatly reduced, creating a more relaxed approach to the day for both children and parents.
  3. Increased class time allows for the integration of core curriculum areas with theme-based learning.
  4. A greater balance is created between one-to-one instruction, small group instruction and whole group instruction.
  5. Child-to-child social interactions are greatly enhanced.
  6. Allows greater opportunity to tailor academic curriculum to best meet children’s individual needs.
  7. Affords the opportunity to enrich learning with additional educational experiences such as field trips and special guest presenters.
  8. Additional class time allows for more emphasis on the development of the whole child.
  9. According to a New Hampshire Department of Education (DOE) study, more time in kindergarten classes leads to: Increased high school attendance, better performance on standardized tests, fewer placements in special education programs, and lower retention rates.
  10. The DOE study concludes that children with more time in kindergarten classes are more frequently able to support themselves through employment and show fewer arrests as adults.

Finally, the Massachusetts non-profit, Strategies for Children, Inc., has done research on the benefits of full day kindergarten. They have a three page booklet, available here: http://www.strategiesforchildren.org/eea/6research_summaries/07_FDK_Factsheet.pdf

The reality is that education is a fluid form. There are many government organizations with opinions and influence on the curriculum, amount of time in school, and who attends. The average Southington citizen is not going to be able to change law makers minds on what should be taught and what is developmentally appropriate in Kindergarten.

It is what it is, and we, as parents and educators, have to ensure that our children are ready for the expectations of what Kindergarten really is, not our fictional ideal of Kindergarten. Kindergarten curriculum is much different than 30 years ago. Children are expected to learn more, and teachers are expected to teach more, in a very short amount of time.

Should we short change Southington students because some people have an idealized vision of education?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Az December 13, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I took some great points away from the discussion and Q&A during the Superintendent's Town Hall this Fall. From my understanding, full day kindergarten (FDK) wouldn't be mandatory for all children and that parents could make arrangements with the schools to pick their children up prior to the full day sessions end if they wanted. If they elect to do so, it's their own prerogative and shouldn't be chided for it. There are reams of data from credible sources expounding the +'s and -'s of this initiative, but you cannot deny the fact that any increase in time spent on professional education would help our children better prepare for the challenges that face them in the classrooms of the future. Habits are formed at a very early age and a child’s mind is endlessly amazing in its capacity to absorb, assimilate, and produce; they can handle it AND be children at the same time. CT will have to comply with a national Common Core Standards initiative by 2014 and the FD-K program is inline with what the programs entail and expect for optimal compliance. From the selfish standpoint of a parent, I want my tax $$ to work at their full strength to BEST prepare my children to be competitive in the world that awaits them not just in the classroom, but globally. As a taxpayer, the relatively low cost of $700k was amenable and would be negligible in overall tax affect; it would also lend a low-cost quality of life incentive to young families looking to move to Southington.
Concerned Parent December 13, 2012 at 08:55 PM
If you are in support of all day kindergarten, please send a note of support to the Board of Education members. You can email them here sboe@southingtonschools.org It is VERY important that the BOE members here from those who are in support. Simply state that you are in support of full day kindergarten.
Ruth Stanley December 13, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Against it. Kids are being pushed with academics earlier and earlier, and Kindergarten is too soon. Kids need time to be kids. Preschool, the good ones, work with children on socialization, separation, etc. Kindergarten is for numbers, letters, and continuing to build on what was learned in preschool. Kindergarten is too early to push reading skills, etc. Besides that, many kids at that age are NOT ready to sit still for a long period of time due to short attention spans, and will only get labeled as "problems" at an earlier age. This "label" will stick with them all the way through school, and can hinder their learning!
Michelle Slimak December 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Ruth- many people agree with you. However, we need to face reality. Kindergarten children are ALREADY expected to be able to read by the end of Kindergarten, and the level they are expected to read at is only going to go up when CT fully adopts the Common Core Standards. Children are ALREADY expected to be able to do addition, counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's. Children are ALREADY forced to sit for long periods of time because the amount of information they need to be taught exceeds the amount of time they have, so they do not have any time for playing. If Southington makes the change from 1/2 day to full day children will have MORE time for playing and being children. They will have MORE time for socialization and imaginative play. They will have MORE time to learn at their own pace, with MORE one-on-one teacher interactions because even though there may be slightly more information, there will be much MORE time. Kindergarten is never going to go back to all playing and no academics.The best we can do is transition to full day K on our terms, in our time, before the state mandates full day K for all children.
Ruth Stanley December 14, 2012 at 01:04 AM
@Michelle: That would be nice, if it worked that way. Unfortunately history will repeat itself yet again. They will push the academics down to K, and there will not be time to play. In other words, instead of giving the kids more time to meet expectations, they will ADD expectations because they have more time. :(
Allen E. Horner, CPA December 14, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Of course, Michelle, who expects the kids to be able to read at the end of kindergarten? Why the same people who say we need all-day kindergarten -- the educational establishment! My daughter graduated valedictorian from her SHS class. She graduated the top of her liberal arts class at UCONN where she had been a Nutmeg Scholar. She did NOT have all-day kindergarten when she was in the public school system in Town. On top of God-given ability, in addition to some good teachers, what she had was a home where parents took an interest in her education and spent time with her, limited her distractions (at that time television) and provided nurture in her home in support of her public school education. We did not abdicate our responsibility to the educate our child to the system. From a financial standpoint, this program is an irresponsible expenditure of taxpayer dollars that are already stretched with all of the supposed improvements that need to be done in Town. [I will grant that it will help those who pay for private daycare so it does help a select group] This article evidences to me a limp response to a well written petition to not have all-day kindergarten, a position I wholly agree with. We will be no better off with all-day kindergarten than we are now and it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and will further erode the home.
Michelle Brennan December 14, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Michelle. Thank you for your points. While I still disagree I appreciate your research. I believe 4 year olds belong at home with their first and best educators as long as possible. It worked beautifully for my own children who did not even attend preschool. I am wondering what the cutoff age is in NH and Massachusetts. I am thinking they are not sending 4 year olds to all day kindergarten. I believe Mass has a September cutoff.
Bonnie Sica December 14, 2012 at 11:57 AM
BOE calling out the troops for the spin factor. If Dr. Erardi won't reveal the research and it doesn't show a major and signifcant improvement for children then why would we even entertain spending 450,000 on K class room renovation and then all the teachers and paraproffesionals to teach it. That figure must be at least 750,000. Plus, it will go up every year as the new teachers reach their tenure. I am sorry BOE, I am all for great education but we just can't afford this right now. Plain and simple. You got your turf field, that was your choice to push through. You never said no give us the million for Kindergarten. We have supported the middle school renovation for 85 million and now you want more money. This is not the time. I can't believe that you are even entertaining this when so many residents are struggling. Please table this till the economy is better and the middle schools are completed. One thing at a time, It may be Christmas but the BOE is asking for a lot under the tree this year.
Michelle Slimak December 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Allen- your daughter was very fortunate to have parents who valued education and took the time to instill those values in her. You must be very proud of her and her accomplishments. But what about the children who do not have parents as invested in their education as you were? Do those children deserve the same chances at success? Your arguement is akin to saying that since your child has access to a variety of healthy foods the schools are wasting money by having breakfast programs and free/reduced lunch. Many parents DO abdicate their responsibility to the public school, and if you have a way to change that, then I am all ears.
Michelle Slimak December 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Michelle- by no means am I saying public school is perfect. The turning 5 by January 1 for kindergarten needs to be changed to 5 by September 1. Only 2 states allow children to attend K at age 4. But that is a State mandate, not a town mandate. Should they continue to teach children to ready in K? I don't agree with that either, but that is a federal directive, along with the Common Core Standards, not a town decision. All the town can do is try to do what is best for the children in Southington based on what the state and the federal government have already decided. Parents who do not agree, and who have the resources, do not have to send their children to K. If you plan on schooling your children using public school, then the law is age 7 and first grade. Parents always have the choice to keep their children home from K, or to homeschool if they believe public school is going in a direction different from their own beliefs.
RJ December 14, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I am steadfastly against full day kindergarten mainly because 2/3 of the funding for the $1M plan comes from reducing staff and services to older children. Maybe this is selfish on my part - my children are already through kindergarten and all performing very well at various levels of the Southington school system. The problem is, there aren't sufficient programs for high achievers as it is. Now this plan will even further hurt those children as they get older. It seems whatever edge we are hoping to get out of full day kindergarten will be lost by reducing staff and services to these children as they get older. Simply put, if the schools have $1M to spend, full day kindergarten is NOT the best use of those funds. I would implore the Board of Education to follow Farmington's lead - take full day kindergarten off the table for the 2013-14 school year and do much more research on the topic. If it is the right thing to do, there is no harm in waiting a year to fully research the pros and cons. For parents who want full day kindergarten in 2013-14, there are several private schools in the area who offer such a program.
Michelle Brennan December 14, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I agree with you RJ.However, I would also submit that this item should be tabled indefinitely.The argument against full day kindergarten is three fold: developmental,funding and metrics. There are several questions about this that need answers. 1: Why is the administration pushing this plan now?These children are too young for a full day program and If it's CCSS, what is being done for the rest of the students not in kindergarten. 2: Where will the money come from to fund all day kindergarten? We haven't had money in past years to keep our class sizes smaller, but we can fund all day kindergarten? 3. Why can't administration publish data that shows why we need this program? The students from past years seem to be doing well. Recent data from the state shows targets of 'maintain' for 9/10 Southington schools with regard to test scores. Evidently the current kindergarten program has been producing results that are fine with the state. What should be done is to drill these scores down farther to the school and the class to get our best performance from the total population, not invest money in a class that hasn't even shown us what it is capable of achieving. https://state2.measinc.com/ct/micpi/#cmtschoollist?id=1219 The bottom line is that these youngest students would be best served in a 1/2 day program with more time to acclimate to school under the guidance of parents and taxpayers should not be billed for full day.The money is better served elsewhere.
Michelle Brennan December 14, 2012 at 05:14 PM
If you would like to sign the petition to keep the 1/2 day program the link is here: http://www.change.org/petitions/southington-ct-board-of-education-maintain-the-half-day-kindergarten-program
Allen E. Horner, CPA December 15, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Michelle, I think you've hit on the real point of this whole matter: This is really a social services effort guised as education. Have I seen anywhere in you article that this is being done to counter irresponsible parenting, to improve the kids' health by having breakfast programs and cheap lunches? No. Take a look at your points list above, take a look at administration's comments -- it's all for the educational enhancement of the child. I'd say that you and the administration are being a bit disingenuous with the public on this subject. What you are really aiming at is full-time day-care at the taxpayers' expense to counter parents who do not take an interest in their family's welfare. That is not an educational problem, that is a social problem, the solution to which is goes beyond full-day kindergarten.


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